Ep 73: Developing Self-Awareness and Leadership with Bernard Melekian

"I can either be right, or I can be effective."

In 45 years of policing, Bernard Melekian has done it all. Seriously.

From being the first K9 handler in California, Melekian rose through the ranks at the Santa Monica Police Department to Assistant Chief, and then spent 13 years as Chief of the Pasadena Police Department. During that time he also served as Interim City Manager for a stint, and of all things, Acting Fire Chief.

While in Pasadena, Melekian championed community-oriented policing initiatives and brought about a lot of positive changes in the department that was experiencing strained relations with minority communities.

So, it wasn’t much surprise when then Attorney General Eric Holder tapped Melekian to head the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, better known as COPS. COPS promotes a community based approach to law enforcement, and it provides millions in funds to agencies around the United States.

Melekian went into consulting after leaving the COPS office but felt unsettled. He liked having a home base. So, he signed on as Undersheriff of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. That’s how we met.

While serving through the ranks, Melekian completed his bachelor’s degree in history, a Masters in Public Administration, and a doctoral program in Public Policy at the University of Southern California.

As a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, he served two war time deployments – while he was chief! First in 1991 in Desert Storm and again in 2003 in the Pacific theater.

He is a former president of the California Police Chiefs Association, and has served on the board of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

So, with that kind of resume, he’s exactly the guy I want to talk to about longevity, maintaining positivity, developing self-awareness and how to develop into a successful leader.

Oh, full disclosure he’s also my boss.

Well, more the boss of my boss’ boss. But still.

Because he is my boss, I feel compelled to point out that his position has nothing to do with why I wanted him on the show. You’ll hear his sage advice and I think you’ll understand why. It’s my show, of course, so I could have easily avoided having him on and I have done that with others. But, he always has something to add to the conversation and I think you’ll enjoy his perspective.

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