When he took the helm of the Santa Monica Police Department more than five years ago, Police Chief Tim Jackman sought to significantly reduce gang crime as one of his imperatives.
The day before he stepped down as the city’s top cop March 2, Jackman took pride that al-though gang violence has not completely stopped, the city has been without a gang-related homicide in nearly two and years and serious crime in the city dropped nine percent in the last year.
“Of all the things I can point to, the fact that the level of vio-lence in the city has been reduced to where it is today is the thing I’m most proud of,” Jackman told The Argonaut.
The effort to reduce gang-related crimes can be attributed in part to outreach by the department with the community, schools and gang intervention organizations, as well as the trusting relationship formed in which community members are willing to talk to police, Jackman said. The working relationship took a lot of work to develop, he said, as residents oftentimes have a lack of trust in the police.
Jackman, 52, described his time in Santa Monica as an “un-believable experience,” saying it was far better than he would’ve expected.
“The things that we as a de-partment have been able to ac-complish in the last five years have been nothing short of ex-traordinary,”
On his final day with the de-partment, Jackman announced the arrest of a suspect following a four-year investigation of an alleged financial scheme that police believe included the fatal stabbing of an artist in his home.
Jackman became Santa Monica police chief in December 2006 after serving nearly 24 years with the Long Beach Police Department, where he attained the rank of deputy chief. He announced his retirement in October but stayed on a few extra months to help with the transition of leadership.
Deputy Chief Al Venegas has taken over on an interim basis until the new chief is appointed.
With nearly 35 years of gov-ernment service, including four years with the U.S. Marines, Jackman said he achieved most of the major goals he set for himself as chief and believes his resignation will allow for someone with more contemporary knowledge to step in.
Asked what part of the job he will miss most, Jackman simply said, “the people,” explaining how he got to know diverse members of the community by walking the city.
“Santa Monica is such a unique town and I’ve met so many wonderful people. The people are clearly what I will miss most,” he said.
In promoting community po-licing, Jackman oversaw the restructuring of geographic beats and a program where a neighbor-hood resource officer represents a specific area of the city. This was done to better align police service with the way the city functions, he said.
“By doing that we were able to deliver a level and quality of service that hadn’t been here before,” the chief said.
During his tenure Jackman said the department became a much larger partner in regional policing and joined with the FBI in a joint terrorism task force that provided resources in cases like the bombing of a synagogue last year.
Jackman was in charge when the department made some key announcements, including the arrests of suspects in the fatal shooting of Santa Monica High School student Eddie Lopez, which occurred prior to Jack-man’s appointment. For Jackman, such arrests can offer a mixed feeling, as they can serve justice but the sense of loss is still there for the families.
Jackman commended the work of his officers, saying they are among the best he has worked with over his career.
“I’ve seen some very good of-ficers over my years and these folks can stand up next to any police officer I’ve ever met. They’re fabulous and they work hard,” he said.
Venegas, who has served with the department for 24 years, said he was able to develop a strong bond with Jackman, who always seemed to establish a sense of calmness whenever he came into the room.
“I’m sad to see him go, not only on a professional level but a personal level,” Venegas said.
“He was a person who chal-lenged us all and pushed us to develop ourselves personally. He set the bar and he constantly pushed us to reach that bar.”
The department faced some challenges under Jackman in-cluding a case where school board member Oscar de la Torre was falsely accused of not intervening soon enough in a fight between students. Jackman acknowledged that the department has made some mistakes, including in the way it proceeded with the de la Torre investigation, but he said they have owned up to them.
Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom praised Jackman’s leader-ship for helping to reduce serious crime in the city by nine percent last year and six percent in the prior year.
“Chief Jackman has served this community for the past several years with an extraordinary amount of honor and integrity,” Bloom said. “It is in no small part due to his leadership that we have only one unsolved murder case in the city of Santa Monica at the present time.”
The application process for the new chief concluded late last month and Jackman noted that the position received interest from across the country. He said the decision should not be based on whether the applicant is an inter-nal or external candidate but rather on who is the best person for the community.
Following his retirement, Jackman said he will take some time to decompress but he does not plan to sit back for long and hopes to pursue other ventures, including a doctorate degree.
As police chief, Jackman said he was incredibly proud to have worked with his police staff and city leaders and to have had their support.
“To sit here as chief and to have the resources I have and the support of the City Council and community I have, I don’t know too many chiefs in America who have been that lucky,” he said.
“Although this has been an in-credibly difficult job at times, having all those things has made this an unbelievably good job.”