Rick Scott will be joining the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) as the new police chief starting May 13, according to a city press release. 

According to the city, Scott, former assistant police chief in North Richland Hills, Texas, is expected to focus on community engagement, transparency and trust in his new position. 

“Public safety begins with partnerships and trust, above all else,” Scott said in the press release. “That’s why my first step as your new police chief will be building strong and lasting relationships — within the department, the city organization and the community.”

Scott has been assistant chief in North Richland Hills for six years but has worked in a variety of law enforcement roles over the past 20 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and his master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Texas at Arlington. Scott also graduated from the 248th session of the FBI National Academy. 

City Manager Derek Johnson said that addressing the impact of systemic racism, racial bias, homelessness and substance abuse, among other complicated issues in the city, was a key factor in choosing the city’s new police chief.

Some of Scott’s goals include:

  • Enhancing the Police Department’s relationships in underrepresented communities.
  • Analyzing trends in crime and calls-for-service, measuring enforcement activity and productivity, and deploying resources where and how they are needed most.
  • Utilizing social media, community forums, annual reports, and other means to share information and collaborate with the community to promote and boost transparency and trust.
  • Engaging the community in a way that promotes an open dialogue about the complexities of policing. 

“Chief Scott will build upon the efforts already under way to address these challenges by focusing his energy on strengthening relationships with community organizations, service providers and other governmental agencies so we can collectively work together,” Johnson said. “This type of collaboration is critical to effectively address these issues.”

Scott said he also plans to implement the pillars of 21st Century Policing and other best practices, which include building trust and legitimacy, increasing policy oversight, utilizing technology and social media, encouraging community policing and strengthening officer training, education and wellness. 

According to Johnson, the process to hire a new chief started by asking the community about which values they would like to see in the next police chief. This included a city-wide survey and multiple focus groups with a broad cross section of the community. 

“The feedback provided helped guide the recruitment and selection which included extensive interviews with a variety of community stakeholders,” Johnson said. 

Scott will succeed former SLOPD Police Chief Deanna Cantrell, who left the position in August 2020 to work as chief at the City of Fairfield’s Police Department. 

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