Pasadena named Santa Monica Deputy Chief Phillip Sanchez as its new chief of police Tuesday.
Sanchez, 53, has spent three decades on the Santa Monica Police Department. He's served in just about every capacity and won the department's Medal of Courage twice for "heroic actions" during tactical operations.
He told a group of community leaders that he finds little wrong on the Pasadena police force.
“It’s not broken. You have extraordinary leaders, you have extraordinary professional services.”
But relationships between police and African-Americans in Pasadena remain frayed after the controversial shooting of a black man last year.
Chris Finney, a gang intervention worker, said some Pasadena cops regularly harass African-Americans and Latinos on the streets.
“He has a lot of cleaning up to do," Finney said.
Sanchez said he’d hit the streets to improve relations.
"That's my style," he said. "It’s not been uncommon for me in my current position, in uniform, to walk neighborhoods. I believe that open dialogue ultimately will lead to better relationships in the community.”
In Santa Monica, Sanchez helped create a community forum that addressed gang violence and tensions between Latinos and African-Americans. He also co-founded the city’s Chronic Homeless Project.
“I believe that the relentless pursuit of criminals is important," Sanchez said. "But more importantly, the investment in prevention for our youth and for other people who live, work, or visit in Pasadena will serve us well as a community as we move towards the future.”
Finney, who attended the formal introduction of Sanchez, said he liked what he heard.
“I think he’s pretty good. I think he’s got good intentions.”