Oxnard Police Chief Scott Whitney has announced he will retire at the end of the year. Whitney has been police chief since 2016. His last day will be Dec. 28.
Whitney, 55, said to VIDA Newspaper that he had decided to retire after more than 30 years in law enforcement to spend more time with his family. “The demands of a police chief, if you’re going to be a good chief, it takes up a lot of time,” Whitney said.
“I talked to my family and made a commitment that it wasn’t going to be forever,” Whitney said, adding, “I had accomplished the things I set out to do within the police department.”
Among accomplishments Whitney cites are reducing crime in Oxnard for four years in a row, thanks to an emphasis on crime prevention and public safety.
Whitney said the lower crime rate is largely because of improved relations with the community, especially with the Hispanic community.
“We started sending officers to every neighborhood council, it was a good way to find out what their challenges are,” Whitney said. “We got information and we shared information.”
Another reason for the reduced crime rate is that the police department has made a greater effort to work with juvenile offenders on staying out of trouble, Whitney said.
“We connected with them in juvenile facilities,” Whitney explained.
Whitney was named police chief in 2016 after Jeri Williams left to become police chief in Phoenix, AZ.
After Greg Nyhoff left in 2017 to become city manager in Vallejo, Whitney doubled as city manager until Alex Nguyen was hired in 2018.
Born and raised in Oxnard, Whitney said the environment the police department works in has changed substantially since he began with it 30 years ago.
“When I started in 1990, crime was probably about two-thirds higher than it is now,” Whitney said. “We make fewer arrests.”
The department now interacts with the community through social media, and the number of calls to the police department regarding Oxnard’s homeless population have skyrocketed.
“There’s more demand on police to deal with the homeless,” said Whitney. “There isn’t enough of a safety net for the homeless and mentally ill.”
Nonetheless the department has improved its ability to handle situations involving people having a mental health crisis, Whitney said.
“We use de-escalation a lot more than we did 30 years ago,” Whitney said.
Whitney says he’s purposely not making any definite plans for what he does in retirement. “Basically, I just want to take a break, I think after a couple of months I’ll have a better idea,” Whitney said. “I still have a passion for helping people, for helping the underserved and for Oxnard.