Many might think that the sheriff would unilaterally select the deputy in charge of the Santa Clarita Valley station. In fact, the city and county have significant input into who is chosen.
While Sheriff Alex Villanueva has the final say who replaces Robert Lewis, who has since been promoted to commander and placed in charge of the department’s special operations division, the mayor, city manager and representative to the county district supervisor will be part of a panel that will interview all qualified applicants, city and county officials said.
According to Mayor Cameron Smyth, Councilmember Bob Kellar and Michelle Vega, spokesperson for County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, this process has been in place for many years. Smyth said he participated 17 years ago as mayor.
“This process fosters collaboration and open dialogue about the needs of the community, especially as it relates to public safety and building partnerships with stakeholders,” Vega said in an email.
Smyth said the panel would interview the applicants later this month, although he said he is unsure who will comprise the panel but does not believe Barger will participate. He also said he has not seen a list of qualified applicants yet but is expecting to have enough time to prep for interviews.
Kellar said the mayor and another councilmember usually joins the city manager and county representative, and he’s eager to be involved.
According to a February 2019 press conference, Villanueva wanted to change the selection process to decrease cronyism and increase the number of lieutenants to apply. Lieutenant is the first rank below captain.
Smyth said he expects the panel to make its recommendation to Villanueva within 30 days of completing interviews. Whether the panel disagrees or comes to a consensus remains to be seen.
“I’m one for one,” he said, referring to recommending Patti Minutello, who served as captain from 2003-06.