How a New Station Chief is Selected

| News | February 13, 2020

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.

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

One Response to “How a New Station Chief is Selected”

  1. Alex Villanueva on February 16, 2020 @ 2:06 pm

    The method the LASD now uses to select station captains is a radical departure from the past. Currently ALL eligible lieutenants who have the requisite line experience and education are eligible to compete on a level field with their peers. Any claim that this process is the same for the last sixteen or so years is false. In the past only a handful of lieutenants, part of a cronyism driven “batting order,” were allowed to interview, leaving more than 98% of all lieutenants out of luck.

    Alex Villanueva

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