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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today he has appointed Pasadena Police Chief Bernard Melekian as director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for the Department of Justice.
Melekian has submitted his intent to retire from the city of Pasadena effective Nov. 8. It is anticipated that he will begin his work with the Department of Justice in mid- to late November.
“It is with a mixture of profound gratitude and sadness that I announce my intention to leave the city of Pasadena,” Melekian said from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Denver, Col., where the announcement was made. “The Pasadena Police Department has been on the cutting edge of community policing and has accomplished great things in the past 13 years. When I begin as director of the COPS Office, it is my intention to highlight those programs and others throughout the nation that we know decrease crime and increase the quality of life in our communities. I am truly excited about the opportunity to parlay 36 years of knowledge and experience in law enforcement to the national platform where model policing programs can be supported.”
“I am excited that Chief Melekian is taking on this prestigious national position,” said City Manager Michael J. Beck. “The leadership he has shown at the Police Department and in the community will be missed tremendously.”
The U.S. COPS Office is responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation’s state, local, territory, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources. It awards grants to state, local, territory, and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy cutting-edge crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test innovative policing strategies. Funding also provides training and technical assistance to community members and local government leaders and all levels of law enforcement.
The COPS Office has produced and compiled a broad range of information resources that can help law enforcement better address specific crime and operational issues, and help community leaders better understand how to work cooperatively with their law enforcement agency to reduce crime.
“One of Chief Melekian’s most important missions will be to help lead a drive to innovate in the area of law enforcement operations,” Holder said. during the IACP conference. “The Justice Department will embrace new ideas and technologies that can make everyone’s efforts more effective as we fulfill our essential obligation to protect our fellow citizens.”
Melekian has served as police chief for the City of Pasadena since April 1996; he served as acting fire chief for six months in 1998 and as interim city manager from January to September 2008. He previously served for 23 years with the Santa Monica Police Department, where he was awarded the Medal of Valor in 1978 and the Medal of Courage in 1980.
A national spokesperson on issues affecting the mentally ill, he testified in 2000 before the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary and served on the National Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consortium in 2002.
He is currently president of the California Police Chiefs Association and served as president of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association from January 2000 to December 2001. He served on the national board of directors for the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) from 2002 until 2006 and is a senior advisor to the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARK) in Los Angeles. He is currently a member of the board of directors for the National Child Labor Committee.
Melekian served as chair of the California Attorney General’s Blue Ribbon Commission on SWAT Policy from 2000 to 2002 and authored the commission’s final report. He was also selected by Los Angeles Chief of Police William Bratton to serve on a blue-ribbon panel to assess SWAT operations with the LAPD.
Chief Melekian has been the recipient of many leadership and service awards including the Anne B. Kennedy Award from the Pasadena Mental Health Association, the Salvation Army “Others” Award and The Excellence in Leadership Award from Leadership Pasadena. In January 2005 he received the Lewis Hine Award for Service to Youth from the National Child Labor Committee and in May 2007 received the Sherman Block Leadership Award from the California Peace Officers Association.
Chief Melekian holds a bachelor’s degree in American history and a master’s degree in public administration from California State University, Northridge. He is a graduate of the 150th session of the FBI National Academy and the 20th class of the POST California Command College, where he was selected as class speaker. He is currently a doctoral candidate in public policy at the University of Southern California.
He served in the U.S. 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. Chief Melekian served a second tour of active duty in 2003 for eight months with the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety and Security Team in the Pacific area. He retired from the Coast Guard Reserve in 2009 after 28 years of service.
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