National Police Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Bernard Melekian Receives Distinguished Service Medal

Distinguished Service Medal recipients Evalee Treen (left), retired administrative office professional; and Bernard Melekian (right), retired undersheriff. (Photo: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)

The National Police Foundation is pleased to announce Bernard Melekian, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, was recently awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, in recognition of his 40-plus year career in law enforcement and his guidance and leadership during his time at the Sheriff’s Office.

The medal was presented on April 12, 2019, during an annual recognition awards ceremony, where the  Sheriff’s Office recognized a group of individuals and/or units who demonstrated exemplary performance.

“This award means a great deal to me, primarily because when I left Pasadena PD in 2009, I assumed I would never return to active law enforcement,” said Bernard Melekian, NPF Board Chairman and Assistant County Executive Officer over public safety in Santa Barbara, California. “From the moment the Sheriff asked me to join his team in 2015, I always said that it was a privilege for me to be there. I would sometimes shake my head in wonder at being able to keep working in this profession that I love so much.”

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown shared that “He [Melekian] was a mentor to many of our people and he had a tremendous impact on our agency during his tenure.”

During Melekian’s tenure as Undersheriff, he helped to build a new leadership team where he developed a plan for expanding staffing with minimal cost increases, oversaw the building of a new structure for contracting Sheriff’s services, and completely revamped the disaster alerting system. Also notable was he led a team that responded to two of the worst fires in California history, including the Thomas Wildfire and the subsequent January 2018 Debris Flow in Santa Barbara County, which was the most devastating event Melekian says he has worked in his 45-year law enforcement and public safety career.

“In short, I was honored to receive this medal because it means that perhaps I made a difference for our profession which is what has become my objective.”

The National Police Foundation is honored to have Mr. Melekian as its Board Chairman. Mr. Melekian served as a board member for the NPF from 2013-2017 and accepted the role of Chairman in 2017.

Bernard Melekian is the Assistant County Executive Officer over public safety in Santa Barbara, California. Prior to that he was appointed as Undersheriff for Santa Barbara County in January 2015. He has 36 years of local law enforcement experience, including serving as the Police Chief for the city of Pasadena for 13 years. He also served with the Santa Monica Police Department for 23 years where he was awarded the Medal of Valor in 1978 and the Medal of Courage in 1980. He was selected as the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) by Attorney General Eric Holder, serving from 2009-2013. He oversaw the development of the concept of Collaborative Reform, a widely acclaimed alternative to the traditional consent decree. This work was first utilized in collaboration with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in 2012. He is a nationally recognized expert in police practices, with specific experience in achieving collaborative change in the culture of law enforcement organizations. His doctoral work on Values-Based Discipline in Law Enforcement Organizations received the Sol Price Award as the outstanding doctoral project of 2012 in the School of Policy, Planning and Development by the University of Southern California. Dr. Melekian served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1970. As a member of the United States Coast Guard Reserve, he was called to active duty in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm and served in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Melekian served a second tour of active duty in 2003 when he served for eight months in the Pacific area. He retired from the Coast Guard Reserves in 2009, after 26 years of service.

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