The City of Petaluma announces the upcoming retirement of Police Chief Ken Savano has been set for December 31, 2023, with his last day on the job to be November 16. Chief Savano has served as Police Chief since 2016, and as a peace officer in Petaluma for 30 years. On behalf of the entire City team, we are tremendously grateful for Chief Savano’s years of service, his dedication to our community, his deep compassion for others, and his exceptional leadership of our Police Department through extraordinary change.
In his retirement letter to the City Manager, Chief Savano wrote, “I have been honored and am
extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve this community as a peace officer and proud to work for the City of Petaluma alongside caring and compassionate professionals who think of others first and recognize the nobility of public service and community safety. I will always be indebted to you, our City, and the community for the trust and support you have shown me and the brave, courageous, and compassionate members of our Department.”
“This Department is exceptional, not because of me, but because of our people. The professionalism, leadership, teamwork, excellence, sense of community, and winning attitude demonstrated by those who served before me and along with me has created the culture for us to be a model policing agency every community deserves. The future of the City and the safety of this community is in good hands. The trust and confidence I have in our staff has never been higher, allowing me to step aside and give the newest generation of police leaders the opportunity to continue our tradition of professionalism and organizational excellence that comes with the public’s trust.”
Chief Savano began his career with the Petaluma Police Department on August 15, 1994. Throughout his career he worked, supervised, and managed a variety of assignments and teams including foot/bicycle/vehicle patrol, traffic safety, police service canines, field training, crisis response team, community policing, mental health and homelessness, social media/community engagement, technology, and professional standards. Police Chief Savano’s dedication and commitment to public safety and his personal character earned him recognition as Officer of the Year in 1998.
After being promoted to Sergeant in 2002, one of Chief Savano’s most significant achievements was during his leadership role supervising the county-wide DUI task force with all Sonoma County law enforcement agencies working together to reduce fatal and injury alcohol-related collisions in the county by more than 70%.
Police Chief Savano earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. He graduated from the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute in 2005, completed the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Leadership Development course in 2013, the POST Management Development Course in 2015, and is a graduate of Session 271 of the FBI National Academy. He has served as a member and previously as the President of the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chiefs’ Association. He served on the California Police Chiefs Association Board of Directors as the Region 3 representative, Technology Committee, Traffic Safety Committee, and Steering Committee member for the Strategic Highway Safety Plan for California, working closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the California Office of Traffic Safety, and the California Highway Patrol on traffic safety issues and legislative recommendations.
He is also a member of the FB I Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, International Association of Chief’s of Police, California Peace Officers Association (CPOA), National Tactical Officer’s Association, and the California Association of Hostage Negotiators (CAHN).
Deputy Chief of Police Brian Miller says, “[Chief Savano] has really taught us in the organization about the importance of relationships. He fundamentally believes that our relationship with the community starts with our staff, and he models that. He’s encouraged our officers to be more open and vulnerable with people, and more compassionate, and that’s really set the tenor of the department as we’ve navigated societal change and defined our organizational culture.”
In doing so, Miller adds, “he’s navigated one of the most challenging times in policing in the last half century and successfully prepared our organization to be the modern, professional police department that this community wants and expects.”
City Manager Peggy Flynn says, “Chief Savano inherited a department that was underfunded and understaffed. Since then, he has modeled the kind of leadership that most communities only aspire to – helping our officers navigate social changes that impacted the entire profession with integrity and compassion. With support from Measure U, he has restored positions in the department, created a professional standards division, brought a civilian manager into the ranks, and helped to implement and facilitate the work of Petaluma’s Independent Police Auditor.”
“Most importantly,” Flynn says, “he has welcomed these changes as an opportunity to build trust with our community, a responsibility that he believes is at the heart of policing. It has been an honor to serve Petalumans alongside Chief Savano for the last five years, and I know the entire City team joins with me in being forever grateful for his service.”
The City will commence a nationwide search for a new Police Chief, based upon staff and community input. In the interim, Deputy Chief Brian Miller has agreed to serve as City’s Police Chief. He looks forward to building on the work and example of Chief Savano during the interim period, while we find the right candidate to retain our momentum and lead Petaluma’s Police Department into the next era of policing.