Captain Seabrooks during a police picnic (photo by Fabian Lewkowicz)

CITY HALL — Santa Monica will soon have its first female police chief.

Jacqueline Seabrooks, the current chief of police in Inglewood and a former member of the Santa Monica Police Department, has been selected to serve as Santa Monica’s next top cop following a three month, nationwide search, city officials announced Monday following inquiries made by the Daily Press.

Seabrooks, a Los Angeles native who has served in law enforcement for 30 years — 25 of them with the SMPD, will replace Tim Jackman, who retired last month.

As chief of police, Seabrooks will receive a salary of $238,752, city officials said. She will manage a department with a budget of over $70 million and 443 employees, including 215 sworn officers spread across the divisions of Administration, Operations, Special Enforcement and Criminal Enforcement.

Pending background checks, Seabrooks is expected to take the reigns in May.

“I am equally honored, humbled, and excited to accept this offer to work in the Santa Monica community as its next chief of police,” Seabrooks said in a press release. “I am particularly happy to be joining a community that is so involved and leading a police department with great achievements in public safety.”

Seabrooks could not be reached Monday for further comment.

Seabrooks was named head of the Inglewood Police Department in 2007. She is the first female to hold the position in the organization’s 100-plus year history. During her tenure she has been faced with a series of high-profile incidents, including officer-involved shootings involving unarmed suspects. She has been credited with increasing accountability and transparency within the Inglewood Police Department.

“I am delighted to announce that Chief Seabrooks will return to Santa Monica to complete her remarkable career in law enforcement,” said City Manager Rod Gould. “Twenty five years in the Santa Monica Police Department, rising from police officer to captain and holding numerous specialty assignments in between, have prepared her well to lead this department.

“Jacqueline Seabrooks’ four and one-half years as chief of police in Inglewood have tested her and proven her mettle,” Gould added. “While at Inglewood, she has provided great service to that community in stabilizing and improving law enforcement services, despite tremendous external scrutiny and budgetary pressures.”

Seabrooks joined the SMPD in 1982, a year after beginning her law enforcement career. In 1990 she was the first woman to be promoted to the rank of sergeant. She continued this trend of firsts when in 1996 she was promoted to lieutenant and in 2000 to police captain.

Former Santa Monica Police Chief Jim Butts, who is now the mayor of Inglewood, worked with Seabrooks for 15 years and promoted her to the rank of captain before he left in 2006 to take over as head of security for Los Angeles World Airports. Butts said he has watched Seabrooks blossom into a true law enforcement professional with the intelligence, understanding and compassion to be a great leader.

“She has made great strides in lowering the violent crime rate and she handled a very difficult and challenging situation in the aftermath of several officer involved shootings, and the training and disciplinary issues that were associated with them,” Butts told the Daily Press Monday. “Everything she has achieved has been well deserved. She did great in the city of Inglewood and will continue to do so when she gets back to Santa Monica.”

Butts served with the Inglewood Police Department for 19 years before being selected to lead the SMPD in 1991.

He said Seabrooks is “extremely no nonsense, highly educated, very articulate and very strategic.”

SMPD Lt. Jay Trisler, vice chair of the Police Officers Association, said the union welcomes Seabrooks and looks forward to working with her.

“We will give her our full support and help her succeed,” Trisler said.

Seabrooks has a master’s degree in public policy and administration from California State University, Long Beach and a bachelor of science degree in public administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She is a member of several professional associations including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and she serves as a board member of the California Police Chiefs Association.

Sources within the SMPD said during Jackman’s tenure morale amongst the rank-and-file took a hit as officers craved someone who was more involved with the day-to-day operations of the department. There is a feeling that bringing in Seabrooks, who is intimately familiar with the city and its officers, will help give the troops a boost.

During her time with Santa Monica, Seabrooks was instrumental in guiding the SMPD’s response to gang violence. Seabrooks was also instrumental in developing and providing training to the men and women of the SMPD in the area of cultural competencies. She also provided this training to several police agencies in Louisiana and Massachusetts.

Seabrooks has been an active supporter of the Police Activities League’s (PAL) youth programs for many years. She also served as a volunteer tutor through a literacy program hosted by the Santa Monica Library.

The candidate pool was deep in executive level experience in some of the premier law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Gould said.

To ensure that the process was as objective and comprehensive as possible, City Hall engaged the services of the International City County Management Association (ICMA) and International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) to advise on the recruitment. This included conducting 35 interviews with members of the SMPD and the community to develop a profile of the department and the desired traits and characteristics for the next chief.

It included development of a tool to screen the initial paper applications and phone interviews down to the five candidates who undertook a full-day assessment on March 27. The assessment center involved six exercises designed to replicate day-to-day challenges for the police chief in Santa Monica. The exercises were scored by specially-trained raters from the community and organization. At the conclusion of the assessment center, the two top performers underwent additional interviews with the city manager, city attorney, and key staff.

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