One month and 117 years after the founding of the San Bernardino Police Department, Darren Goodman on Wednesday, June 15, became the first Black man to be sworn in as police chief.
A 31-year law enforcement veteran with a track record of engaging with the community and addressing challenges directly, Goodman is set to lead a force of more than 250 sworn officers and 150 professional staff members.
He is first top cop to serve San Bernardino on a permanent basis in three years.
“I believe in the potential of San Bernardino,” Goodman, who began June 6, said after being sworn in Wednesday. “I believe in the hope that still exists. There are great people in this city. They’ve been here a long time, fighting, struggling, hoping to see their lives, their quality of life improve, and I want to be a part of that …
“I can guarantee the community,” Goodman added, “I will be relentless and unapologetic in our pursuit of the criminals destroying this city.”
Goodman is no stranger to making history.
He became Upland’s first Black police chief four years ago, and by conducting homeless outreach, interacting regularly with residents and holding those under him accountable, left an indelible mark on his peers.
In a recent phone interview, Upland Mayor Bill Velto called Goodman “one of the most polished people I’ve met in my life.
“He could go to any city in this country and make that police department better.”
San Bernardino, which has seen a rash of violent crime in recent weeks, would be wise to “let him do his job,” Velto said.
“Stay out of his way because he’s going to get things better,” Velto added. “He’s a top cop. He understands social injustices, he understands the need for policing. He understands criminal accountability.”
Hardy Brown, a Black pioneer and longtime community leader, was 76 when he began imploring the San Bernardino City Council to identify minority candidates for leadership positions within the Police Department.
Three years later, Brown commended Goodman’s hiring as chief.
“It has been a long time coming but it has come,” he wrote in an email. “It has taken 117 years and 39 police chiefs … to get here and I am overjoyed.”
Seventy-five years after Johnnie Epps became the first Black police officer in San Bernardino, Brown called for “constant monitoring of the department to ensure (Goodman) gets a fair shake at doing his job.
“Let us take this opportunity,” Brown concluded, “to press forward and make San Bernardino the safest city in the Inland Empire, state and nation.”
Goodman, who could not be reached for comment ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony, succeeds acting police Chief David Green and interim Chief Eric McBride, who retired last year.
Jarrod Burguan was the last permanent top cop in town.
“I am well aware of the significance of this appointment,” Goodman said Wednesday. “I understand the tremendous responsibility that comes along with it. I take it freely. I will be everyone’s police chief.
“I’m not here to serve one community,” he added. “I’m here to serve the community.”
San Bernardino Council Member Kimberly Calvin this week called Goodman “just one of the missing pieces that adds many layers of what’s needed in order to make San Bernardino great once again.”
As crucial as public safety is to a city, Calvin expects Goodman “to help us regain some civility and remove lawlessness.”
“The stigma that San Bernardino carries, that this is where bad boys come,” she added, “that’s not what I want to be known for, ever. I want San Bernardino to be known as a city that’s thriving, a city that’s on the move, that’s caring about our constituents and able to face whatever roadblocks are in our way.
“With public safety being on the top of that list,” Calvin continued, “I believe Chief Goodman already has come in and set a precedent to what San Bernardino is no longer going to accept.”
Two years ago, three Black representatives assumed City Council seats concurrently for the first time.
Goodman’s appointment is another “step forward in the city as far as diversity,” Council Member Damon Alexander said by phone this week. “We have a vast and very diverse group of department heads in the city right now, the most we’ve ever had, and they’re really good at their job.
“They’re going to help move San Bernardino along.”
With new leadership atop the Police Department, Alexander said the time is now to work in concert with police and school district leaders to move San Bernardino forward.
Community members, too, will play an active role, Goodman emphasized Wednesday.
“We will be active partners with the community, always striving to deliver optimal service and ensure the needs of the community inform and guide our mission,” he said. “To meet our mutual goals, we have to share mutual responsibility. It’s up to all of us, not just the Police Department, not just city officials.
“We need the community to be involved.”