San Bernardino Loses Police Chief Amidst Political Instability

Police Chief Rob Handy today announced he is leaving San Bernardino to become the Chief of Police in Huntington Beach.

Chief Handy stated in an email “the primary reason for my application was simply the opportunity of working and living in Huntington Beach.”

Handy also noted other factors weighed in on his decision.

Handy wrote, “Considering the constantly changing environment at City Hall, I decided to seek the position to stabilize my career. The election is unpredictable, I am now working with my third City Manager, third Finance Director, and all new Department Heads.  In that context, it is also important to consider I am at will employee and can be released at any time for no cause.”

Chief Handy also stressed his warnings to city leaders about the currently inadequate staffing of the San Bernardino Police Department and the impact further cuts would make

“I have had repeated conversations with City Manager and the Mayor about our staffing levels. I do not think we can cut anymore without causing serious problems for our community.  I do not believe we provide adequate service in many cases now.  Further cuts would had significant consequences.

The following is the complete text of the email from Police Chief Rob Handy:

I wanted to take a moment to update you all on the status of the process in Huntington Beach.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to comment on it directly until now. The reasons I decided to pursue the opportunity are both personal and professional.  It is not appropriate to go into detail of every reason in this format.  However, the primary reason for my application was simply the opportunity of working and living in Huntington Beach.  Under ordinary circumstances, I would not have pursued another opportunity after being here for only two years.  As you all know, things turned out dramatically different in San Bernardino than my family and I anticipated when I accepted this position and we moved here.

Since the Bankruptcy, I have been approached about other Chief’s jobs.  I have not seriously considered any other position until I received a call from a recruiter regarding Huntington Beach.  Considering the constantly changing environment at City Hall, I decided to seek the position to stabilize my career. The election is unpredictable, I am now working with my third City Manager, third Finance Director, and all new Department Heads.  In that context, it is also important to consider I am at will employee and can be released at any time for no cause.  As we have discussed for many months, each of us needs to evaluate our personal career, circumstances, and opportunities and do what we think is best for ourselves and our families.  That is what my family and I have decided to do.  The stability and location offered in this opportunity was too great to pass up.

There have been some questions as to what information I did have or now have that more cuts are coming or other changes are coming that I am avoiding by leaving.  I would like to clarify that here as well.   I have said all along the plan of adjustment will include additional cuts and revenue proposals for the City.  I have been told all along by elected officials and others at City Hall that the PD will not be the focus of these cuts.  I have also been assured multiple times that those making the recommendations are not seeking additional concessions from employees.   I have had repeated conversations with City Manager and the Mayor about our staffing levels. I do not think we can cut anymore without causing serious problems for our community.  I do not believe we provide adequate service in many cases now.  Further cuts would had significant consequences. Until recent statements during political events I have not seen or heard anything to the contrary.

It is important to remember the election is coming up with nearly all of our elected officials on the ballot.  Much of what we are hearing now I believe is political rhetoric.  It is unfortunate many people make statements without considering the implications for employees, their families, and the future of our organization.  I cannot predict if there will be more cuts or not.  I am optimistic things will settle down after the election and we can calmly and rationally work toward solutions to the problems we face as a City.

As for where the Huntington Beach process is today, they have extended an offer and I am in the process of the background and medical.  The contract goes to the City Council for formal approval on the 4th of November.  As for a departure date, I believe it will be the first part of December, as long as everything goes as expected.  I believe Assistant Chief Burguan will be appointed as the interim police chief until the outcome of the Mayor’s election is determined.  Then the new Mayor will decide on the next police chief.

I would like to say how much of a privilege it has been for me to work here with so many of you.  The hardest part of this decision for me has been the thought of leaving all of you I have met and worked with over the last couple of years.  I have learned a great deal from many of you during my time here and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work with you all.

Thank you

Rob Handy