City of Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy has announced his plans to retire after a distinguished 30-year law enforcement career.
“After more than 30 years in policing – 9 as a police chief and 7 years here in Huntington Beach – it is time for me to focus on my health, family, and whatever comes next in life,” said Chief Handy. “Serving the community here in Huntington Beach has been an incredible privilege for which I will always be grateful.”
Chief Handy came to Huntington Beach in 2013 while the community was working to address civil disturbances during the US Open of Surfing, which had created widespread public safety concerns. Working to balance the needs of all interests, Chief Handy led the City’s police department in developing a balance between the needs of the business community to provide quality entertainment venues and events, while also maintaining the high quality-of-life standards that residents deserve and expect. Over the years, Chief Handy has been instrumental in developing the protocols that have allowed the City to continue to safely host hundreds of special events, including the Great Pacific Airshow and the US Open of Surfing.
“During the past 7 years, Chief Handy has left an indelible positive mark on Huntington Beach,” said Mayor Lyn Semeta. “From the community-based policing practices that he instituted, to the technology improvements he championed, to the advancements we’ve made as a City in addressing homelessness – there is no doubt that Chief Handy has been the central figure driving our efforts to improve public safety here in Surf City, and our community will enjoy lasting benefits because of all his efforts. Chief Handy’s presence will be missed at City Hall, and I wish he and his wonderful family the very best as he prepares for retirement.”
During his time with the City, Chief Handy led numerous efforts to better engage the community, build trust, and improve levels of service to residents, businesses, and visitors. Those efforts have all served to improve public safety efforts in Huntington Beach, with citywide crime rates having fallen by 14% during Chief Handy’s tenure. Downtown crime rates fell even further over that time period, declining by 36%.
“More than anything, I will miss his passion for the people of Huntington Beach,” said City Manager Oliver Chi. “Beyond the statistics and programs that Chief Handy helped us realize, perhaps the best illustration of his commitment to the community can be seen through his development of the Shop with a Cop program. I’ll always remember Chief Handy’s intense interest in that effort, as he rallied community support and funding to ensure that 50 underserved youth in Huntington Beach would be sponsored each year and have the chance to shop for themselves and their families with a police officer. That type of community focus is one of the things that we will all remember about Chief Handy as he prepares for retirement.”
While serving Huntington Beach, Chief Handy presided over the development of multiple operational improvements at the Police Department, including:
- Establishment of monthly management meetings focused on data analytics to prioritize resources, solve crimes, and hold mangers accountable for problem solving efforts.
- Creating a four member officer / horse mounted team to assist with crowd control at special events and conduct outreach in the community.
- Implemented national standards and best practices for management of special events and emergency incidents.
- Implementing a body-worn camera program.
- Creating the City’s Homeless Taskforce and pairing mental health professionals with officers to assist the mentally ill.
- Creating the Downtown Ambassador Program through a public-private partnership.
“I am very appreciative for the support my family and I received from the members of the Department, community, City management and the City Council,” said Chief Handy. “The City of Huntington Beach and its citizens are in great hands as the Police Department is full of incredible people who serve this community with honor each and every day.”
Chief Handy will be retiring later this month, and the City is working to finalize plans to identify a successor to serve as Huntington Beach’s next Chief of Police.