New Santa Rosa top cop outlines priorities; focuses on violence reduction

Reducing violence, filling vacancies, bringing back the gang unit and cracking down on sideshows are among new Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan's priorities.

The new top cop outlined his goals and gave KTVU a tour of the department on Friday, and many of his employees appeared to be happy with their new boss.

"Very good guy. Very lucky to have him," said one patrol sergeant.

A dispatcher agreed, saying, "We're excited to have him as the new chief - congratulations!"

Cregan, who had served as interim chief for several months, is no outsider. The former Novato officer has been with Santa Rosa police for 17 years and lives in the city.

"I live here with my wife, and I have two teenage daughters that go to school here in Santa Rosa, so for me, it’s an honor to be able to work in the city that I live in 

But there is a lot to be responsible for.

"We have a lot on our plate here in Santa Rosa," Cregan said. "Some of the priorities right now is going to be focused on violence reduction."

Last year, here were 471 shootings and six homicides. This year there have already been seven killings.

The chief wants to bring back the gang unit to help stem the tide of violence.

He also wants to focus on sideshows.

"We’re seeing them, unfortunately weekend after weekend," he said. "We’re putting some proactive measures to eliminate the sideshows from occurring."

There are 181 sworn officers but 16 vacancies, so hiring lateral and new officers will be key.

With the national reckoning on police abuse and racial injustice, Cregan says he'll strike a balance.

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"I think that our police department is better trained today than it’s ever been to respond to any type of civil unrest in our community while still allowing people to protest their 1st amendment constitutional rights," he said.

Santa Rosa police have been affected by a number of tragedies,like the covid-related death of Detective Marylou Armer, and repeated wildfires in the area.

"Each one of those things has taken a toll on our officers and all of our staff. And it’s important that I understand those," he said.

The chief says he wants to be able to take meaningful action in response to their community concerns.

"And being willing to not being defensive to those and me saying you know what, we do have changes that need to be made and we want to hear from our activist community, we want to hear from our community here in Santa Rosa.

The chief said he also plans to install cameras in all police cars to increase transparency and accountability.