Capturing the Rhythm of
Downtown Santa Monica
Santa Monica Centric
SMPD vet serving as interim police chief
By Kevin Herrera

City Manager Rick Cole selected Kenneth Semko, current captain of the Santa Monica Police Department’s (SMPD) Operations Division, as interim chief of police.

Semko will serve in the role while an internal and external recruitment effort is conducted to replace Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks who retires Sept. 28, 2017. Semko is a 26-year veteran of SMPD and has held positions throughout the organization, including the Homeless Liaison Program, patrol, SWAT, and as a K-9 handler.

He assumes his role effective Sept. 29, 2017.

(Semko, Photo courtesy City of Santa Monica)

“The public safety challenges in Santa Monica don’t stop while we select a successor to Chief Seabrooks,” Cole said. “Captain Ken Semko has the right character, experience and values to step immediately into the role of leading the department. With a talented department behind him, Captain Semko will continue to fight the rise in property crime, respond to the regional homeless crisis, deal with the disturbing efforts by so-called ‘white nationalists’ to disrupt peaceful gatherings in our community and advance our efforts to be a model of 21st century policing.”

In 2011, then Lt. Semko was selected to create the city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) where he designed and oversaw the development of the city's state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center, implemented citywide disaster preparedness training and recruited members for the city's first Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Semko served as the city's OEM manager until his promotion to captain in May 2013.

“I am both humbled and excited to have the opportunity to lead the men and women of the Santa Monica Police Department through this time of transition,” Semko said. “I look forward to building on the relationships developed under Chief Seabrooks’ leadership to foster an environment of collaboration to address the issues that have the greatest impact on the wellbeing of the community we serve.”

Semko has taught law enforcement audiences on the national stage and he is an expert on K-9 management and supervision. Promoted to captain in 2013, Semko has served as the division commander for both the Strategic Services and Operations divisions of the SMPD and served as the deputy chief for the second half of 2016. He is a leader in law enforcement homeless engagement practices and has been instrumental in the development of innovative law enforcement protocols to address the rise in the homeless population in Los Angeles County.

Semko holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in organizational leadership. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, California POST Command College, Northwestern University's Executive Management Program, Harvard University’s Senior Executive Program and holds an emergency manager’s certification through the state of California’s Office of Emergency Services.

The chief selection is anticipated in early 2018. To  ensure the process is open to all candidates, Semko has voluntarily committed to not being an applicant.

—  This article was repurposed from a City of Santa Monica news release.


Semko has taught law enforcement audiences on the national stage and he is an expert on K-9 management and supervision.

Kevin Herrera is a former journalist turned marketing and communication expert, beer enthusiast, cyclist, cultural observer/commentator and expert on all things Downtown Santa Monica. He is currently the sr. marketing & communication manager for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.