2017-03-17 / Front Page

Veteran Simi officer named chief

Livingstone’s entire 27-year career has been with SVPD
By Melissa Simon

TOP COP—David Livingstone, Simi Valley’s new chief of police. 
Photo courtesy of SVPD TOP COP—David Livingstone, Simi Valley’s new chief of police. Photo courtesy of SVPD Having been with the Simi Valley Police Department for nearly three decades, the city’s new chief, David Livingstone, is already a well-known member of the community.

But few know he is also an avid historian who is fluent in German and Spanish.

The son of a German immigrant, Livingstone often visited Germany with his family, fostering in him an early love of history.

He went on to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Cal State Northridge, and is now pursuing a doctorate in the subject at UC San Diego.

He is finishing a dissertation on how the West German border police transitioned from being under a dictatorship to a democracy after World War II.

“History teaches you not to look at the world from a myopic lens but in a broader perspective,” Livingstone, 48, told the Simi Valley Acorn this week. “It’s something I’m really proud of and that has changed my life in a lot of ways. I can look at problems more creatively and strategically . . . and I think it gives me a greater understanding of the different cultures in our community.”

Livingstone, who had been serving as interim chief since the December retirement of Mitch McCann, was appointed to the permanent position Monday by City Manager Eric Levitt.

As chief, Livingstone will oversee a department with an annual operating budget of $32.6 million and 178 sworn and civilian employees.

“I’m extraordinarily loyal to SVPD because it’s the only police department I’ve ever worked for and the only one I ever will,” he said. “It’s a humbling feeling, and I feel very fortunate to have been awarded this opportunity to serve as chief.”

Since joining the force 27 years ago, Livingstone has risen through the ranks, serving as a patrol officer, senior officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, commander and deputy chief.

Mayor Bob Huber commended Livingstone for his dedication to the department and the city.

“He brings to the table all the tools you’d want for someone stepping into the chief’s role and running the department,” Huber said. “I believe he’ll do a really good job, and I back the city manager’s choice for our new chief.”

Officer Tim Wedemeyer, president of the Simi Valley Police Officers Association, said Livingstone is a great choice for the department.

“He lets you be your own person and supervises from a distance, only stepping in when he’s needed,” Wedemeyer said. “I’ve heard from a majority of the POA that he was the No. 1 choice. We’re lucky to have him.”

Vision for the future

Born and raised in Simi Valley, Livingstone said he grew up just 100 feet from where the police station now stands at 3901 Alamo St., which used to be orange groves that he played in as a child.

He made his first foray into law enforcement at the age of 19 at the urging of his first boss, a retired Ventura County Sheriff’s Office deputy who owned Foster’s Donuts in Simi.

“I met a lot of officers that would come in to get their coffee— these were the days before we had Starbucks—and they told me law enforcement was a great career and encouraged me to look into it,” he said. “It was a transformative experience for me, and I joined SVPD in a civilian capacity.”

The chief said he has seen many changes over the years when it comes to training, technology and advanced equipment, like Tasers and other less-lethal options to subdue criminals.

But one thing remains the same: the goal to maintain the community’s safety by keeping crime rates low.

“I’m a lifelong resident here so . . . I have a stake in this community and know many of the residents personally. I want to carry on the tradition set by my predecessors of making Simi an even safer and better place to work and live,” Livingstone said.

To do that, the chief said, he wants to deliver cutting-edge law enforcement services and create a strategic plan outlining an objective and goals for SVPD, including operating as efficiently as possible.

“It would be remiss of me to say that . . . because the department is so successful I can sit back on autopilot. That’s exactly what a chief shouldn’t do,” he said. “I’m the type of person that embraces change and, even though it can be stressful at times, eventually people get used to it. If you don’t constantly look for better ways to do things, it’ll become stagnant.”

Livingstone said the department has “so much talent in terms of the young men and women coming up that have good ideas.”

“I want to tap into that, try to make the department better than it already is, which can be challenging sometimes.”

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