Huntington Beach hires Julian Harvey as interim police chief


The city of Huntington Beach appointed Julian Harvey as its interim police chief during a special City Council meeting Thursday night.

The City Council had a closed session with negotiations that lasted well more than two hours. When it reconvened into open session, City Manager Oliver Chi announced a resolution to appoint Harvey as its interim police chief.

The resolution passed 5-2, with Mayor Lyn Semeta and Councilman Erik Peterson voting against the appointment. There was no further discussion in the open session.


Harvey, a 53-year-old Laguna Beach resident, was formerly the deputy police chief for Anaheim Police Department before retiring after nearly 29 years of service in November 2019.

Tito Ortiz, a former mixed martial arts star and lifelong Huntington Beach resident, was voters’ first choice for City Council.

Nov. 5, 2020

He also previously served as interim police chief in Anaheim from October 2017 through June 2018 before the city hired Jorge Cisneros to fill the position.

His time in Anaheim included a focus on homelessness, and he led efforts to fight human trafficking that resulted in the establishment of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.

Harvey, a three-time All-American in men’s water polo at UC Irvine from 1986 to 1989, helped the Anteaters win the NCAA title in 1989.

He called coming to Surf City a homecoming of sorts and said he lived there until middle school.

“Immediately upon hearing of a potential opportunity here, I expressed interest,” Harvey said in an interview Thursday night.

“[Huntington Beach] is a storied police department, with a very strong foundation. It’s one of the only interim chief of police jobs I would be interested in.”

The appointment comes at a tumultuous time within the police department. Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy announced his retirement on Oct. 13.

Ten days later, interim Chief Kelly Rodriguez announced her own retirement, effective Nov. 13, citing “an unhealthy level of divisiveness” in the community.

Kelly Rodriguez, who was appointed after Robert Handy’s retirement, cites political division as a reason for stepping down as the Huntington Beach Police Department’s interim police chief.

Oct. 23, 2020

The Huntington Beach Police Management Assn., which represents nine lieutenants and three captains in the department, had endorsed conservatives Tito Ortiz, Casey McKeon and Gracey Van Der Mark as a three-candidate ticket for City Council.

It also backed a mailer that slammed Democratic candidates Dan Kalmick, Oscar Rodriguez and Natalie Moser.

However, Kalmick was endorsed by the Police Officers Assn., another union that represents police officers within the department.

Ortiz, Kalmick and Moser won the three vacant spots on City Council this week.

Harvey said division in the department “certainly represented a challenge,” but that he looked forward to the challenge.

“This is a very solid organization with exceptional employees, both sworn and in the professional class,” Harvey said.

“Day in and day out, they come to work and do a tremendous job for their community ... The fundamentals are there, and I look forward to the opportunity.”

The city is preparing a recruitment process for Handy’s replacement, Chi said, which is expected to take four to six months.

A male, believed to be a transient, was hit Sunday night at the intersection of Brookhurst and Hamilton. Melanie Benner of Laguna Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Nov. 2, 2020

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