Mark Layhew, a 27-year veteran of the Simi Valley Police Department, was sworn in Thursday as the city's new police chief, pledging to keep a lid on gang activity and to uphold the community's reputation as one of the safest cities in the country.
Layhew, 50, replaces Randy Adams, who leaves to become Glendale's police chief.
"There is no greater sense of fulfillment than being hired as an officer and being able to work your way to chief," Layhew said after being sworn in by City Manager Mike Sedell. "We are very fortunate that Chief Adams left in his wake a winning team. It makes my job a lot easier."
Layhew said he will continue providing good customer service to residents and "vigilant gang suppression efforts." He said a major task will be preparing the department for the departure of numerous senior officers this decade.
"In the next five years, 72% of the sergeants, lieutenants and captains will be eligible for retirement," he said.
Speaking to dozens of officers, city staff members and law enforcement leaders from across the county, Layhew pledged to work cooperatively with the police officers' union, prepare the city to handle homeland security issues, and strive to maintain Simi Valley's status as one of the safest large cities in the country.
"The bar has been set extremely high in Simi Valley and Mark is well aware of that," City Councilman Glen Becerra said. "We've been ranked as the safest city in America for four years in a row and we expect to always be ranked as one of the safest."
The new chief isn't expected to make wholesale changes to the department, which includes 120 officers and 65 civilian employees.
"I think it's more fine-tuning ... what's in place," Sedell said. "Bringing more community involvement in policing."
Adams, 51, who assumes his new post in Glendale today, said the secret for Layhew's success is "being able to listen. I know he'll do a great job."
Former Simi Valley Police Chief Paul Miller, now a council member, encouraged the new chief to keep the city manager and council well informed on the department and develop an operating plan that everyone understands.
"He's very focused and very thorough," Miller said. "The biggest challenge is to stay focused when the alligators are biting."
Citing his nearly three decades with the city, Becerra said there was consensus throughout the department and city government about Layhew's promotion.
"After 27 years of rising through the ranks, there isn't any part of the department that he hasn't touched. That will help him be a better chief," Becerra said. "He knows the strengths and weaknesses, he knows what works and doesn't work."
Layhew joined the department in 1975 and has worked as a patrol and traffic officer, shooting range master and detective. He has commanded the SWAT, detective and traffic units. Layhew, one of three captains in the department, has overseen the operations division since May 2000.
He earned his bachelor's degree in environmental health sciences from Cal State Northridge in 1974 and holds a community college teaching credential in law enforcement.
As chief, Layhew will earn an annual salary of $120,000, according to the city. With benefits, such as retirement contributions, six weeks of vacation, health and life insurance, a city-provided car and a $1,600 annual uniform allowance, his compensation package totals $174,707.60.
The new chief was born into a law enforcement family.
Layhew's father, Ewing G. Layhew, was a former FBI agent who served in Los Angeles for 23 years. Mark Layhew and his wife, Holly, live in Moorpark with their two children, Megan, 14, and Colton, 12.