Release Date: July 18,2016
July 17, 2016
As Santa Barbara's first female police chief, Lori Luhnow, prepares to take office on Monday, she brings a modern, community-focused view of police training, recruitment and transparency.
On the heels of the recent police-involved shootings of black men in other parts of the country, and subsequent local outcry for the Santa Barbara Police Department to undergo implicit bias training, Chief Luhnow said she is more than open to the suggestion.
"I think what the community was trying to say is that they want us to focus on training our officers' hearts and minds," she told the News-Press. "I agree — and I don't want to stop with just implicit bias training."
The San Diego Police Department — where she served for 27 years — underwent implicit bias training recently, as well as procedural justice and emotional intelligence training, she said.
"In a sense we have to build the skills of a warrior, but we have to train ? our officers to think and understand people better and communicate their way through situations," Chief Luhnow said.
Further, a willingness to address the priorities of city residents is key, she explained.
"That's the foundation of community-oriented policing: creating a safe community based on the priorities of the community."
Her leadership style is one that's "transformative and collaborative" with the goal of empowering her fellow officers, she said, noting this strategy is particularly effective with younger officers.
"The old-school hierarchy, paramilitary leadership style is less successful with the newer generations."
As the department looks to fill vacancies, Chief Luhnow said she aims to implement a strategic, long-term plan for recruitment.
"There's no quick fix," she said. "It's about connecting with people, encouraging them."
In San Diego, she managed the in-service training and development of 2,500 police officers and civilians in San Diego's Regional Police Academy for years.
Her ideas for drawing in new faces to the Police Department include starting up a robust volunteer program to give anyone interested in becoming a police officer some exposure.
But recruiting and hiring officers who have the interest and ability to connect with the community —especially with the city's younger generation — is an important aspect, she said.
"In light of what's going on in the world, we really have to focus on helping our officers connect with youth in a way that they're viewed as part of the community," she said.
She also wants to address the problem many agencies have with mirroring the population, pointing to the low number of female police officers as an example.
"In society we have about half women, but in law enforcement the numbers average 10 to 20 percent typically for an agency," she said.
Further, Chief Luhnow wants transparency in the Santa Barbara Police Department.
"It starts with relationships and communication and it creates that environment where people are trusting and understand what your intentions are."
In her new position, Chief Luhnow will oversee the department's 200 sworn and civilian staff and a budget of $42 million.
Friday was the last day for Interim Police Chief John Crombach, who filled in when former Chief Cam Sanchez retired in February after 15 years in the position.
Chief Luhnow earned a bachelor's degree in communication from UC San Diego, a master's in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, and graduated from the FBI National Academy.
She is a member of the California Police Chiefs Association and the FBI National Academy Associates.
As a former college volleyball athlete who grew up with an identical twin sister, she is skilled in working with a team toward a common goal, she said lightheartedly.
Chief Luhnow, an avid cyclist who used to do track sprint cycling, said she plans to ride her bicycle to work every day.
"People are going to see me," she said. "I'm living in the city. It's how I want to be a chief — I want to police from the internal, in one with the community."