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Former COPS director offers external review

We live in cynical times, law enforcement veteran Bernard K. Melekian says.

“We’re in an era where skepticism about the government and, particularly about the police, is at an all-time high,” says Melekian, known by friends and colleagues as Barney. “Ten to 15 years ago, a law enforcement agency would conduct its own internal review when an issue or problem arose.

"Now, there’s a real push for objectivity and outside review.”

Enter The Paratus Group, founded by Melekian in 2005 but sitting on ice for four years while the former Pasadena police chief – and president of CalChiefs – served a four-year stint at the Department of Justice.

Melekian and his wife, Nancy, now are all settled down in Santa Barbara, and Melekian, tapping a network of mostly retired police chiefs throughout the country, is ramping up The Paratus Group, a consultancy dedicated to helping public safety executives address today’s challenging environment.

“It makes a huge difference when a police chief is not afraid to have an outside group take a close look at it,” says Melekian, a nationally recognized expert in police practices whose company focuses on collaborative change in the culture of policing.

The Paratus Group currently is working with two cities that are in the process of recruiting new police chiefs. Melekian and his network of colleagues are spending 60 to 90 days assessing the departments’ strengths and weaknesses, and identifying any issues that need to be addressed.

Melekian brings not only 40 years of law enforcement experience to The Paratus Group, but also a national and international perspective on how law enforcement agencies work best. In addition to his recent work with the DOJ, Melekian has studied police departments in Ireland and Israel.

"It is our exposure to an incredibly diverse range of law enforcement agencies, both nationally and internationally, that makes our company unique," Melekian says.

The Paratus Group takes its name from the official Coast Guard motto “Semper Paratus” (Latin for Always Ready). Melekian is a U.S. Army veteran who retired in 2009 from the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves after 26 years of service.

Prior to forming The Paratus Group, Melekian was chief of police of Pasadena for 13 years ending in 2009. He then served from 2009-2013 for the U.S. Department of Justice as director of Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Melekian to the position at COPS, which provides grants, training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

The Paratus Group law enforcement consultancy will provide agencies with services ranging from recovering from a crisis, finding new ways to maintain safety with limited resources and auditing

Melekian earned a bachelor’s degree in American History and a master’s degree in Public Administration, both from California State University, Northridge. In August 2012, he was awarded a doctorate in Policy, Planning and Development from the University of Southern California for his work on police disciplinary systems. His doctoral work on values-based discipline was awarded the Sol Price Award as the outstanding doctoral project of 2012 in USC’s School of Policy, Planning and Development. 

Melekian currently is working with ICMA (the International City/County Management Association) on police/fire merger proposals in Hermosa Beach and St. Louis, Mo. He also is working on a regional policing project with the Strategic Policy Partnership. 

In addition to serving as police chief of Pasadena, Melekian spent 23 years with the Santa Monica Police Department, where he was awarded the Medal of Valor in 1978 and the Medal of Courage in 1980. He also served as the acting fire chief for Pasadena for six months in 1998 and as the interim city manager from January to October 2008. 

Melekian served as president of the California Police Chiefs Association in 2009. He was the president of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association from Jan. 1, 2000 to Dec. 31, 2001, the only person to have been asked to serve two terms in that position. He served on the National Board of Directors for the Police Executive Research Forum from 2002 until 2006. 

Melekian’s military experience includes two extended active duty assignments, during which he received numerous citations and awards for exemplary service. 

 For more information on The Paratus Group, email [email protected]

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