Surrounded by prominent Santa Monica community members and police officers from throughout California and as far as the East Coast, Cynthia Renaud was sworn in as the Santa Monica Police Department’s newest police chief Wednesday at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club. She will be Santa Monica’s 17th police chief.
After a prayer from Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson and a warm welcome by Captain Clinton Muir, Mayor Ted Winterer took the stage to share some words about what the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) means to him and the city at large, praising the department for being “approachable and informative,” doing a lot of “unseen good work” such as participating in community events and providing informational services to the homeless. He added that solving Santa Monica’s problems can’t be done alone and that he looks forward to working with Renaud to continue “rising to the challenge of a city that doesn’t settle for anything ordinary.”
Winterer then welcomed city manager Rick Cole to the stage, whose responsibility it was to select a new police chief. Cole said he initially found the task of replacing Jacqueline Seabrooks daunting, finding himself putting candidates through “so many assessments and interviews, they had their eyes crossed,” until Renaud stood out above the rest.
Cole lauded Renaud’s toughness, sharing a story of when Renaud physically trained with stress fractures in both legs — eventually breaking one — and mentally overcoming that pain with reassuring words from former police chief Seabrooks. Cole added that to become a leader in a 21st century police department, he wanted to find someone that could navigate an era of “attention deficit democracy” where “the one or two who don’t bring honor to the badge” go viral for negative actions, causing loss of respect and trust in police departments. After a ringer of mock presses, interviews, and written work plans, Cole said Renaud “nailed it,” saying he couldn’t imagine doing a better job of capturing what it means to be a police chief.
Renaud took the stage and thanked family, friends, and officers who traveled from throughout California and the East Coast to see her be sworn in. Renaud said she’ll focus on community “healing,” with her main points of focus as police chief being: lowering crime, positively impacting homelessness, continue fostering relationships with residents and businesses, empowering and energizing staff at SMPD, and collaborating with city departments to accomplish goals for Santa Monica.
She plans to execute this vision by fully staffing the SMPD as soon as she can, simultaneously looking into streamlining internally and looking at automation and emerging tech to “free up more officers to help people.”
Renaud closed out her swearing-in ceremony by describing her family’s humble beginnings and how thankful she is to become the city’s new police chief.
“How fortunate am I … A child of immigrant parents and extremely meager background can, through hard work, be afforded the opportunity to serve and to lead. Santa Monica, thank you for that opportunity and I look forward to our journey together and the great things we will accomplish.”
Renaud previously spent 20 years in Long Beach as a police officer before becoming Folsom’s chief of police for 7 years. She now inherits a department grappling with a steadily increasing homeless population and rising crime statistics.