Santa Barbara County has a new undersheriff and he has big plans for the department.
Undersheriff Bernard “Barney” Melekian is no stranger to law enforcement and has four decades of experience under his belt.
“There isn’t very much that I haven’t experienced in my tenure, so hopefully some of that experience and wisdom will be of benefit,” he said.
Sheriff Bill Brown picked the new second-in-command after the announcement that Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson was hanging up his hat after 30 years.
The sheriff said he is now looking forward to what Melekian will bring to the table.
“The undersheriff roll is critically important because it’s a position that really runs the day to day operations of the department. We’re an extremely decentralized organization. We have 25 different work sites spread out throughout the county. Somebody has to be on top of everything that happens on a day to day basis and that roll falls to the undersheriff,” said Brown.
Melekian said within the next 30 days, he will meet with as many employees as possible at those multiple work sites that span from Santa Maria to Carpinteria.
“The truth of the matter is that the real work of the department, of the sheriff’s office and of the people that we serve, is really done by the young men and women who are driving radio cars, walking the hallways of the custody facility, answering the phones. Hopefully I’ll help make their work possible, but I need to understand what their issues and concerns are,” he said.
After the first month, he said he will be able to solidify his plans for the department that will take place over the next three to four years.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is not new for Melekian. He was a local deputy in the 1970s before heading back to Santa Monica.Slideshow: New Santa Barbara County Undersheriff Sworn In