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Leadership Santa Maria Valley: Exploring Public Safety in Our Community

Leadership Santa Maria Valley: Exploring Public Safety in Our Community

By Joyce Melena, Corporate Trainer Community Health Centers

Leadership Santa Maria Valley had the opportunity to visit and meet those who make the greatest influence on our community safety. Organizers included: Amelia Gonzalez-Paz (Coast Hills Credit Union), Shelby McLean (CALM), Joyce Melena (Community Health Centers) and Diane Alleman-Stevens as Leadership Advisor. The goal for the day was to get a glimpse of what our local Public Safety team does on a day-to-day basis, and explore opportunities for growth within our community.

The committee arranged for our class to visit the Santa Maria Police Department and Fire Station #2. The day began with a guided tour of the Police Department from Sgt. Nathan Totorica. The class had a first-hand look at the department at work--visiting not only stations but also the crime lab and holding facility. Marc Schneider, Chief of Police, gave a presentation reviewing the labor shortage the department faces. He stressed that the department ‘has issues with recruiting, not budget’--reminding us all of the difficulties in finding qualified employees in the Santa Maria area. Chief Marc Schneider shared his hopes of revitalizing community outreach and maximizing personnel to meet the city’s increasing needs. 

The class then met with Officer Robles, who is a part of the Police Department Special Enforcement Team. He addressed the various gang crimes in the City of Santa Maria and shared strategies his team uses to monitor and track gang activity. We ended our morning with a SWAT presentation from Officers Whitney and Yee. To qualify for the SWAT Team, there are various physical requirements that go above and beyond typical police officer duties, in addition to a written recommendation from their supervisor.  The demonstration included Flash Grenades and specialized sponge tip bullets used during SWAT raids. 
Leadership Speaker, Sue Andersen, President and CEO of Marian Regional Medical Center spoke to the class about Leadership in Today’s World. Sue provided the class with exceptional advice like, ‘take every opportunity you get, [and] jump on it,’ and ‘build teams for the next level of leaders.’  The presentation was passionate and showed the class what it meant to be a leader beyond the organization by being a leader in the community.  

The class ended the day at the oldest and busiest fire station in Santa Maria, Fire Department #2 on Carmen and Depot. We toured the facility and Battalion Chief Anthony Clayburg spoke about the volume and nature of calls received at Station #2, most of which are medical aid calls. His team gave us a special demonstration on Urban Search and Rescue vehicle. Firefighters climbed a ladder to the top of a training building and showed us how they cut holes on the roof to omit smoke. We spoke to Capitan Youngern who explained the close working relationship between the City’s Fire Department and Police Department, and the availability of various fire trucks within the City’s limits. 

The committee would like to give a final thank you to the following: Diane Alleman-Stevens for providing breakfast and being an excellent advisor; Coast Hills for providing lunch; all of our presenters at the Santa Maria Police Department; the team at Fire Department Station #2; and special shout out to Nathan Totorica for all your help with coordination at the Police Department. 

Leadership Santa Maria Valley class tours the Fire Department #2

Chief Marc Schneider gives a presentation to the Leadership of Santa Maria Valley class

Officer Yee and Whitney from the Santa Maria Police Department SWAT division presenting tactical gear

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