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Santa Monica Taps Highly Touted Folsom Police Chief for Top Post

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By Jorge Casuso

March 13, 2018 -- Folsom Police Chief Cynthia Renaud -- who is credited with helping lower property and violent crime in the Sacramento County city -- has been tapped to head the Santa Monica Police Department, City officials announced Tuesday.

Renaud will go from a department of 105 workers and a $22 million budget she led for seven years to one in Santa Monica that is four times as large, with 460 employees and an operating budget of $86.6 million.

She will start the job at the end of April with an annual salary of $265,440, officials said.
Police Chief Cynthia Renaud
Incoming Police Chief Cynthia Renaud (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

“The job of Police Chief is all about character and leadership,” said City Manager Rick Cole. “Chief Renaud is a nationally respected law enforcement leader who spent the first twenty years of her outstanding career in Southern California.

"In Chief Renaud we are getting a leader who will lead and empower the sworn and civilian staff of SMPD to enhance their reputation as the 'benchmark of excellence' for law enforcement in our region."

Renaud, who launched her career in the Long Beach Police Department before heading north, is the lone female police chief in the Sacramento region.

She also serves as vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police's executive board, which she is expected to lead in 2020.

Renaud's track record in Folsom has led to calls for her to run in this year's race for County Sheriff, a prospect she has declined.

A staff opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee last month urging her to run was headlined: "She’s a mom. She’s into literature. She also would be a great candidate for sheriff."

The article by news columnist Marcos Breton describes Renaud as "a moderate Republican" who "was moved by the works of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy" and "is pursuing a program in which officers would devote parts of their day, particularly before they head out on patrol, to meditation and breathing techniques to lessen stress."

In the column, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert praises Renaud for her emphasis on working closely with the community.

“She sees public safety as far bigger than police on the streets, but rather as the critical need to work together as a community to achieve that,” Schubert said.

“The greatest lesson I’ve learned from her was simple yet very profound. If we can stop violence in the family, we can stop violence in our community.”

In a statement issued by the City Tuesday, Renaud emphasized the importance of building a relationship with the Santa Monica community.

“I look forward to meeting with, connecting with and hearing from all Santa Monicans about what impacts their daily lives and how the Police Department can be part of the overall city team working to serve their needs," she said.

"I understand the pressing and vexing challenges facing this wonderful community and I intend to immediately partner with my department, fellow City departments and those we serve to address crime and be a productive part of the stakeholder group fighting to reduce homelessness and find long-term solutions for those in need.”

Cole said Renaud was chosen after a "rigorous" selection process that resulted "in someone who understands and practices 21st Century policing."

These practices, Cole said, include "using technology, data and community partnerships to fight crime and the fear of crime -- and build trust that Santa Monica's Police Department will be fair, equitable, constitutional, humane and effective.

"She will hit the ground running to address public safety challenges in Santa Monica," he said.

Before assuming the top post in Folsom, Renaud worked for 20 years in the Long Beach Police Department, going from temp employee, to patrol, then detective and eventually commander.

The reason she ended up in law enforcement, Renaud told the Sacramento Bee, was that she needed a job.

“I always wished I had this great story of knowing I wanted to be in law enforcement from the time I was a small child, but I didn’t,” she said. “I realized I had to provide for my family.”

Renaud's husband is a retired policeman. They have a 15-year-old daughter.


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