After 11 years of serving the city, Huntington Beach Police Chief Ken Small has announced his retirement. Huntington Beach homeowners may see a new police officer heading their department, but city officials and residents alike are paying their respect to Small for his more than 40 years in law enforcement. Says City Manager Fred Wilson, “It’ll be a great loss to the city. I think [Small], in my opinion, was an outstanding chief.”
Small began his law enforcement career in 1971 with the LAPD, and mainly worked in the Watts division. He said, “The first year I was in Watts, which is about half the size of Huntington Beach, we had 142 murders. Typically in Huntington Beach, we’ve had some years where we’ve had none and some years we have two or three.” Small worked with the LAPD for 25 years, and even worked with a Huntington Beach city councilman during that time. Jim Katapodis, who retired as a sergeant with the LAPD in February, is sure that he and Small worked together somewhere in the LAPD.
In 2002, Small was named the chief of police for Huntington Beach after moving back from Daytona Beach, Florida. He had his share of challenges with the department, including working through budget cuts, reduced staff and more. But officers and city officials say that Small handled the challenges in stride.
The City of Huntington Beach will soon launch a nationwide search for his replacement, and the hope is to have someone hired in the next six months. Small will continue to work with the department until his replacement has been found. When asked about his successor, Small said, “My hope would be that they find somebody that’s open, accessible and approachable. That is No.1 in terms of being the chief of police. You’ve got to be approached, listen and respond to concerns. I’ve seen too many chiefs with layers of people around them that you can’t really get through, and I don’t think that’s healthy for the department or the city.”
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