Laguna Selects a New Police Chief

New Police Chief Laura Farinella.
New Police Chief Laura Farinella.

Laura Farinella, a top Long Beach police commander and longtime Orange County resident, was named to lead the Laguna Beach police department this week.

She will become the city’s first female chief of police.

Farinella, 50, starts on the job March 16 and succeeds Chief Paul Workman, who announced plans to retire last August. Workman, 60, spent five years in the department’s top job and a 38-year police career devoted solely to Laguna’s 24,000 residents. His last day was Friday, Feb. 6. Captain Darin Lenyi, one of the department’s two most senior commanders who also applied for the top job, will act as interim chief.

“I’m looking forward to a police and community partnership; you’re never going to replace the cop on the street and Laguna allows that,” said Farinella, who wants to establish advisory groups with bicyclists, youth, artists, merchants and hoteliers. “You’ll see me in the community,” she promised.

Establishing such alliances gives citizens a direct pipeline to the department when issues arise, said Farinella, noting that Long Beach shares similar policing issues with Laguna, including bar crowds, property crimes and influxes of weekend tourists.

“Laura’s success at community outreach and working collaboratively with department personnel and the community really set her apart from other candidates,” City Manager John Pietig said in a statement.

Farinella’s assignments in her 25 years in the Long Beach department have included the gang division, field training, internal affairs sergeant and chief of staff to previous Long Beach Chief Jim McDonnell, who was elected Los Angeles County Sheriff in November. Her promotion was the first for a female deputy chief of police in the department’s 107-year history, the Press Telegram reported.

She credits her edge as a candidate to her former boss, who provided a training ground for commanders by shifting their assignments every two or three years to diversify their careers. “Diversity is positive in any management,” she said, referring to both her gender and the breadth of her professional experiences. She also figures she’s the 14th commander to leave the Long Beach department in a decade to become a chief of another agency. Ex-Long Beach brass now lead police forces in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Modesto and Folsom, she said.

Since living in the county since college, Farinella already feels at home in Laguna. “It’s built into our family,” she said, describing visits to the art festivals, Main Beach and local restaurants.

Laguna’s police chief earns $192,700, matching the pay of the fire chief and the assistant city manager. The chief supervises 47 sworn officers and 40 civilians, including the animal services division. The department’s $14.6 million budget comprises 21 percent of the city’s total $72.2 million budget in 2014, city budget documents show.

Farinella earned $178,569 as one of three top deputies for the department in Long Beach, a city of 462,000 people, according to the city’s 2014 budget. The force currently includes 803 sworn officers and 407 civilians, department spokeswoman Cynthia Arrona said. The department’s $213 million budget included special funding last year for gang enforcement, surveillance cameras, recruiting 40 new officers and keeping emergency response times to under five minutes. Its officers responded to 650,000 calls for a service in 2013.

Farinella holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Chapman University, and a master’s degree in emergency services administration from California State University at Long Beach. She is a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy.

Farinella, who married her 25-year domestic partner Dawn Collinske in 2009, lives in Rancho Santa Margarita. The couple have two school-aged children.


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  1. I wrote the following on February 10, 2015.
    I have been close to 100% predicting the stunts LBPD played regarding my Civil Rights under POPE WORKMAN, and an even higher percentage regarding LBPD’s
    and our city’s leaders the lack of character to properly choose our next Police Chief.

    Having Darin Lenyi as Interim Chief is like hiring an Arsonist to run the Fire Department. Lenyi is a POX on Public Service.

    Even with John Pietag, whose lack of honesty and ethics should disquailify him from ANY Personnel decisions, SEEMS to have made a good choice.

    I await to see if our new Police Chief is Different than the Old POPE, and our Current City leaders, and is the light Laguna Beach NEEDS now after the darkness
    POPE Workman and John Pietag have ENABLED!

    I am Laying my MARKER! I SEE what others sadly can’t see, so let’s SEE how our new Chief performs her duties.

    By Andrew Edwards, Press-Telegram

    Posted: 02/10/15, 12:43 PM PST |

    Laura Farinella, the Long Beach Police Department’s deputy chief in charge of the agency’s Support Bureau, has been named as Laguna Beach’s next police chief.

    “Laura’s success at community outreach and working collaboratively with department personnel and the community really set her apart from other candidates.” Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig said in a statement.

    Farinella began her service with the Long Beach Police Department in 1990. She has served as a patrol officer in all areas of the city, a field training officer, Internal Affairs sergeant and as chief of staff to previous Long Beach chief Jim McDonnell, among other assignments.

    Her promotion was the first for a female deputy chief of police in the department’s 107-year history.

    Farinella is also the leader of the Chief’s LGBTQ Advisory Group, is on the board of the Central California Area Maritime Security Committee, is the Executive Director of the Long Beach Police Historical Society, and represents the City of Long Beach on the authority approval board for the Urban Area Security Initiative grant program, according to the City of Long Beach.

    IF it does what it connotes, THAT impresses me. I sent the following pastie to the Johnny this morning.


    We will find out if the New Chief is different from the old POPE very early.

    I have been saving two internal affairs complaints regarding the PERVERTS known as Captain Lenyi and Captain Kravetz. They regard PERJURY in court, and LYING in reports to the DA requesting prosecution.


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