Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

City of San Luis Obispo announces new police chief

Rachel Showalter
The City of San Luis Obispo hired Rick Scott as the new police chief.

After months of searching, the City of San Luis Obispo offered its police chief position to Rick Scott, the current assistant police chief in North Richland Hills, Texas.

City Manager Derek Johnson said addressing systemic racism and racial bias in policing was an important consideration for city staff in making their selection for the position.

“What we’ve learned in 2020 and 2021 is that our community has said loud and clear that we want a new age of policing,” Johnson said. “The good news is that our police department has a good headstart on that in embracing the pillars of 21st century policing.”

Johnson said Scott is credited with leading efforts to reform policing in his prior position, focusing on increasing community engagement and reducing the use of force.

He said the city was also focused on finding a police chief who would prioritize solutions for homelessness, mental health challenges and substance abuse.

Johnson said public survey responses and focus groups helped inform the department’s decision. Scott was also interviewed by community panels, city managers throughout the region and police chiefs from across California.

“They, in turn, really helped crystalize that Rick brought the experience, the education and the background, and really the right philosophy, to lead the San Luis Obispo Police Department,”Johnson said.

The search began when former Police Chief Deanna Cantrell left the department in August 2020 to serve as police chief for the City of Fairfield.

Police Captain Jeff Smith serves as interim police chief for San Luis Obispo, but he is leaving the department in April to serve as the police chief for the City of Pismo Beach.

Scott is scheduled to begin his new role May 13, 2021.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
Related Content