Lyle Martin, who has served as assistant chief of police since 2008, has been selected as Bakersfield’s new chief of police.
City Manager Alan Tandy announced Tuesday that Martin was chosen as chief from among three finalists. He will assume his new role at 9 a.m. Dec. 14 in a ceremony at City Council chambers.
Martin replaces Greg Williamson, who is retiring after serving as chief since 2010. Both Martin and Williamson are reserving comment on Martin’s selection until Dec. 14.
Martin, 50, has a “very well-rounded law enforcement background” and has led all divisions in the department, Tandy said. He said Martin has deep roots in Bakersfield and knows the community, its neighborhoods and the various interest groups.
“(Martin) can help bridge community differences and strengthen the trust the community has in the police department,” Tandy said.
He becomes the second black police chief in the city’s history, following Eric Matlock, who retired in 2004.
Tandy stressed that Martin was selected solely due to his qualifications and experience, but added city employment needs to continue to become more diversified.
The city manager described Martin as very good at business management, well-informed, forthcoming and very personable with a humorous streak. He said Martin is someone who gets along with a wide variety of people.
Questions were asked during the interview process regarding acrimony against police for use of force both locally and nationwide. He said Martin will continue to advocate the community-oriented policing program established by Williamson, Coffee With a Cop, community liaison programs and growing the department’s social media presence.
Martin’s base salary will be $165,171.
City Councilman Willie Rivera said Martin’s selection is great news for the department and the city. He said he has worked with Martin quite a bit in his time on the council and has found him to be smart, hardworking and responsive, attributes which will continue to serve him well as the top officer at the BPD.
Community activist Isaiah Crompton said Martin gained necessary experience under the tutelage of Williamson, and has his finger on the pulse of community issues.
“I think he’s going to make a great police chief,” Crompton said.
Some residents took to Facebook to congratulate the incoming chief.
“Class act guy, very nice man, met him this fall in AYSO,” wrote Kathy Tennison. “Congratulations Coach Lyle, well deserved.”
“I wish him well,” wrote Bob Laramee. “The first order of business for him is to bring the gang activity in the city under control.”
Josth Stenner, an organizer with Faith in Action, a group that has been critical of the department, said he believes the community should have had input into the selection of the chief.
“With that said, we think that if Mr. Martin is amenable to the goals that we have set out as a community, and is the person that meets the requirements the community has set up, then we are more than happy to work with him,” Stenner said.
Faith in Action issued a set of demands Monday including accountability and transparency, protection of the Muslim and Sikh communities and refusal to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Martin was born and raised in southeast Bakersfield near Madison Street and Watts Drive. His father, Herbert Martin, was a barber, and his mother, Edith, taught elementary school. He has two siblings, Herbert Jr. and Marche.
He is married to Connie Martin, and is a father of five.
Martin attended South High School, earned an associate of arts degree from Bakersfield College and, at the University of Phoenix, earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2001 and master’s in business administration in 2003.
He joined the BPD in September 1988 at the age of 21.