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Laguna Beach chooses Robert Thompson as next police chief with Laura Farinella retiring

Robert Thompson has been hired by city officials to be the next police chief of the Laguna Beach Police Department.
(Courtesy of the city of Laguna Beach)

Laguna Beach has chosen Robert Thompson as its next police chief, city officials announced late Monday.

Thompson currently serves in the same role in Dixon, a town of around 21,000 people just outside of Sacramento. He will replace retiring Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella, and he is scheduled to start on Jan. 18.

Farinella was the first female police chief of the Laguna Beach Police Department.

“I am excited and humbled by this opportunity and committed to continuing the strong community-oriented policing programs in Laguna Beach,” Thompson said in a statement. “I enjoy engaging community leaders, business owners and citizens while creating an environment of public trust in the police department, and where employees feel connected to the community they serve.”

The city’s search for its next police chief included both internal and external applicants, the statement said.

In making the announcement, city officials said that Thompson has more than 26 years of experience in the field of public safety. He spent eight years as a police officer with the St. Louis (Mo.) Police Department.

Thompson then joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he worked in the Sacramento Division for 15 years.

From there, he became the police chief for Dixon in March 2017. His tenure in Dixon was defined by establishing core values, community engagement and investment in the development and growth of officers, Laguna Beach city officials said.

“Rob’s success at working collaboratively with the community, his colleagues and the police department really set him apart from other candidates,” Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig said in the release.

Farinella announced her plan to retire in March, and her last day was to be in July. She continued to serve as Laguna Beach’s police chief while the city’s search to fill the role was ongoing.

In March 2015, Farinella was brought on as the 16th police chief of Laguna Beach.

Farinella’s achievements in Laguna Beach included a record-low crime rate and the addition of the department’s first school resource officer. The city also added full-time jailers and beach patrol officers.

A foot patrol for downtown Laguna Beach and a police presence at Main Beach and Heisler Park through community outreach booths also were highlights of Farinella’s tenure.

Patrick Shearn’s “Sunset Trace,” a Skynet installation commissioned for Laguna Art Museum’s Art and Nature event, is a hit with the local community.

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