Chief Paul M. Walters

Paul M. Walters served as Chief of Police in Santa Ana, California, from 1988 to 2013, making him the longest-serving chief in a major city in modern U.S. history. When Walters was first appointed chief, the department had 359 officers serving 293,000 people. Budget cuts reduced that to 320 officers by the time he retired – but the force now protects 335,000 residents – and a total population of 500,000 during the working day. At the same time, the crime rate has dropped to the lowest level in almost 40 years and gang violence fell by more than 40 percent a year in 2011 and 2012.

Walters is currently a Senior Associate with the Center for Public Safety Management, International City/County Management Association (ICMA), in Washington, DC. The Center is dedicated to improving local government performance (effectiveness and efficiency) through the identification, promotion, and application of leading practices.
Under Walters’ leadership, the Santa Ana Police Department was recognized since 1997 as a National Demonstration Site and Training Center for Community Policing and Problem Solving. He trained and assisted numerous police executives and public officials from throughout the country on how to implement innovative Community Policing strategies. During his tenure, Santa Ana built a new police administration building and jail designed to support Community Policing Strategies.

Chief Walters was recognized by President Bill Clinton for Community Policing innovations, leadership and accomplishments in lowering crime. He was also recognized several times by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, California Attorney General, the Governor of California, and both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

In 2009, Walters received the Department of Defense’s highest award, the Employer Freedom Award, and he was personally recognized by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for exceptional leadership, support and personal devotion to supporting the National Guard and Reserve.

He was also recognized as a national innovator and leader in policing, received the Director’s Award from Director of the FBI, Louis Freeh, for exceptional public service and leadership. He was only the second person in the history of the FBI to receive this award who was not an FBI employee.

He was asked by the Mayor and city council to serve as the interim City Manager/CEO in June 2011, while continuing to serve as the Chief of Police. In 2011-2012, he led the city from impending bankruptcy at a $30 million deficit to solvency with $20 million in reserves.

Walters received a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Science from California State University, Fullerton and graduated with Bachelor of Science and JD Law degree from the American College of Law. He completed a two-year graduate program in executive leadership and development from POST California Command College.

Chief Walters is a U.S. Air Force veteran, serving as a NCO and Combat Crew member of 571st Strategic Missile Wing, Titan II ICBM, David-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. He was also stationed at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan with the 498th Tactical Missile Squadron.

He has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, most recently by the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) board for outstanding leadership as the Executive Board Chairman, and the Orange County Regional Narcotics Suppression Program for service as bard chairman and for leading its development into a nationally recognized program.

Chief Walters (Ret.) can be reached directly at

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