Ramon Batista has been chosen as the next Chief of Police for the City of Santa Monica.
Batista was previously the Chief in Mesa and was a finalist for the Chief job in Madison Wisconsin although he was passed over for that position despite strong community support.
Chief Batista holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Safety and Homeland Security and a Master of Science degree in Leadership. He is a Fellow at the National Police Foundation, a current member of the Police Executive Research Forum, a graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police, and the FBI National Academy.
Batista has 34 years of law enforcement experience after starting his career with the Tucson Police Department in 1986. He served as patrol supervisor, traffic division/solo motors, training academy commander, public information office director, patrol division commander, SWAT division commander, and chief of staff.
He rose to the rank of captain in 2011 before becoming assistant chief, first for the patrol bureau (2014 – 2016) followed by the investigative bureau (2016 – 2017) where he had oversight of all detectives and major criminal investigations, the crime lab, and the evidence section.
However, Batista left Mesa after a string of controversial decisions that put him at odds with his department.
According to news reports published at the time, during his tenure in Mesa, the city’s police department received significant scrutiny. An officer was acquitted of murder after shooting an unarmed man who was on his knees and begging for his life. In two other cases, different officers are seen on video attacking an unarmed man and beating a 15-year-old armed robber suspect who was already in handcuffs.
Batista criticized the officers who were accused of improper use of force and worked to change the culture in the department following those cases. He was given credit for changes to the department and the City reported its lowest violent crime rate (23 events per 1,000 residents) under his watch.
However, local police unions cast a vote of no confidence against him for what they described as abandoning officers during his attempts at reform
In announcing his hire, city officials described him as a proponent of 21st Century Policing initiatives and community resiliency. The announcement cited his implementation of a mental health crisis 911 diversion program that directed suicide calls from police to crisis counselors. The announcement said he launched a strategic plan for the Mesa department, which included enhancing diversity across ranks, focusing on internal and external communication, and de-escalation techniques that led to safer engagement between the community and the officers.
“Chief Batista is a tenured law enforcement professional who built strong community relationships in both of the communities he has served with outstanding performance,” said City Manager David White. “We are certain he will do the same here in Santa Monica where strong relationships underpin community safety, trust, and collaboration.”
The Santa Monica Police Officers Association welcomed the news of his hiring.
“The SMPOA is committed to strong relationships with the community we serve, and we’re excited to welcome the stewardship of a Chief who shares our values,” said the group in a statement. “In his recent book, Do No Harm, 5 steps to align police actions with community values, Chief Batista has literally written a blueprint to create a culture of accountability and transparency between law enforcement and the communities they so heroically serve.”
Chief Batista is married, and he and his wife have two children and one grandchild. They enjoy running, hiking, and all activities related to their family. His start date is Monday, October 18, with an annual salary of $298,788.
“It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the next chief of police for the City of Santa Monica and to lead the Santa Monica Police Department into the next era of public safety,” said Chief Ramon Batista. “The Santa Monica Police Department has a history of honorable public service, collaboration, outreach, and community safety. I look forward to being a part of the team and serving our residents alongside them.”
Chief Ramon Batista will be sworn into service on Monday, Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. The public can view live on Santa Monica CityTV Channel 16 or the City’s YouTube channel: Police Chief Swearing in Ceremony.