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Santa Monica Taps Police Department Veteran to Serve as Interim Chief


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By Lookout Staff

September 11, 2017 -- Santa Monica Police Capt. Kenneth Semko -- a 26-year veteran of the force -- will head the department while the City searches for a new chief, City Manager Rick Cole announced Friday.

Semko, who currently heads SMPD's Operations Division, will assume the post of interim chief effective September 29, one day after Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks retires, Cole said.
Police Captain Kenneth Semko

As captain, he has also headed the Strategic Services Division and served as the Deputy Chief of Police for the second half of 2016, City officials said.

“The public safety challenges in Santa Monica don’t stop while we select a successor to Chief Seabrooks,” said City Manager Rick Cole. “Captain Ken Semko has the right character, experience and values to step immediately into the role of leading the Department."

Capt. Kenneth Semko (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

"With a talented Department behind him, Captain Semko will continue to fight the rise in property crime, respond to the regional homeless crisis, deal with the disturbing efforts by so-called 'white nationalists' to disrupt peaceful gatherings in our community and advance our efforts to be a model of 21st Century policing.”

Semko has voluntarily committed not to apply for the post of permanent chief "in order to ensure the process is open to all candidates," City officials said.

His starting salary will be $21,204 per month. A new chief is expected to be selected in early 2018.

During his tenure at SMPD, Semko has held positions that have included working on the Homeless Liaison Program, patrol, SWAT and as a K-9 handler, a field where he is considered an expert.

In 2011, while serving as a lieutenant, Semko was selected to create the City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which he headed until his promotion to caption in 2013.

Semko "designed and oversaw the development of the City's state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center, implemented citywide disaster preparedness training and recruited members for the City's first Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)," City officials said in a statement.

“I am both humbled and excited to have the opportunity to lead the men and women of the Santa Monica Police Department through this time of transition,” Semko said in a statement.

“I look forward to building on the relationships developed under Chief Seabrooks’ leadership to foster an environment of collaboration to address the issues that have the greatest impact on the wellbeing of the community we serve.”

Semko holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Pitzer College and a master's degree in organizational leadership from Woodbury University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and management programs at Northwestern and Harvard universities.

Considered a leader in law enforcement homeless engagement practices, Semko "has been instrumental in the development of innovative law enforcement protocols to address the rise in the homeless population in Los Angeles County," City officials said.


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