New chief will focus on community engagement and transparency, city says
–After a nationwide search, the City of San Luis Obispo has provided a conditional offer to a law enforcement leader focused on community engagement, transparency and trust to serve as the city’s next police chief. Rick Scott is scheduled to start in this new role on May 13.
Scott currently serves as assistant police chief in North Richland Hills, Texas, a city of over 70,000 residents in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where he successfully engaged and empowered underrepresented segments of the community on joint public safety initiatives, the City of San Luis Obispo said in a news release.
“Rick Scott embraces the unique challenges of law enforcement today, with a leadership style that embodies our community’s values around diversity, equity and inclusion,” said City Manager Derek Johnson.
Over the past two decades, Scott has served in a wide variety of law enforcement roles, starting as a patrol officer and working his way up through the ranks at the City of North Richland Hills Police Department, where he gained experience in all aspects of modern policing. He has been the assistant police chief for the past six years.
Addressing the historic impact of systemic racism and racial bias in policing was a key consideration in selecting the city’s new police chief, said Johnson. Also, at the top of the list was finding someone who could support and implement meaningful solutions to homelessness, mental health challenges, substance abuse, and other complicated issues that are priorities to address in our community.
“Public safety begins with partnerships and trust, above all else,” said Scott. “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.”
Another top priority for the new chief is completing a detailed assessment of the police department and developing a strategic plan to implement the pillars of 21st Century Policing and other best practices. Scott led a similar effort at the City of North Richland Hills Police Department to better align policing practices with community expectations.
Scott succeeds Police Chief Deanna Cantrell, who left in August 2020 to become the City of Fairfield’s Police Chief in the Bay Area. Police Captain Jeff Smith has served as interim police chief since then. Smith announced this week that he will leave the City of San Luis Obispo in April to become police chief for the City of Pismo Beach. The city is extremely grateful to Chief Smith for his leadership and 18 years of service to the community, the news release said.
Scott earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Arts degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice, both from the University of Texas at Arlington. He also is a graduate from the 248th session of the FBI National Academy. Scott and his wife Andrya look forward to becoming part of the community along with their two daughters.