Former Cathedral City Police Police Chief Travis Walker has been hired as the new police chief of Santa Paula.
Walker will start on February 1. He takes over a position that has been filled in the interim the city's long-term police chief resigned in November 2019.
“As this recruitment process progressed, it was apparent that we had several well-qualified and experienced finalists who appeared capable of performing this all-important job, making this a very challenging decision,” said Dan Singer, Santa Paula City Manager. “However, we are thrilled to welcome Chief Walker into the Santa Paula family and look forward to leveraging his experience and insights from other communities to further elevate and modernize the City’s community-centric approach to policing.”
Walker started his career in 1997 with the San Bernardino Police Department. In his nearly 20 year career with SBPD, he worked a variety of assignments including; Patrol, Bicycle Mounted Enforcement, Narcotics, Gangs, K9, Specialized Enforcement Bureau, and various Detective, Supervisor, and Management Assignments. He also served as the Tactical Commander during the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack.
He joined the Cathedral City Police Department to serve as deputy chief in Sept. 2016 and was promoted to Chief in 2017.
On May 2, 2019, Walker was placed on administrative leave after Cathedral City Police Department Dispatcher Loran Candelas alleged, among other things, that Walker sexually assaulted her at the Miramonte Resort in Indian Wells.
A complaint filed further details Candelas' allegations, which included sexual harassment, sex-based discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination, violation of the Ralph Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery.
The Sheriff's Department investigated the allegations and sent the case to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. In August 2019, the DA's office announced they had chosen not to file charges.
Candelas filed a lawsuit against Walker and Cathedral City on July 29, 2019. The judge would go on to dismiss the suit in July 2020, however, that came a few months after Candelas agreed to a $500,000 with the city.
Walker made no admission of liability.
"The Plaintiff understands and agrees that by entering into this Agreement, the Defendants do NOT admit any liability on their part, and that this settlement is the compromise of doubtful and disputed claims and is made solely to avoid the cost of continued litigation," reads the settlement agreement, which was signed in April 2020.
Chris Parman, Cathedral City Communications and Events Manager, later confirmed that Candelas resigned from her position and no longer works for the city.
The city conducted an internal investigation into the accusations, however, that was stopped when Walker and the city mutually agreed on a "separation of employment" in November 2019.
Then-deputy police chief Anthony Yoakum briefly took over as acting police chief of Cathedral City, however, he took a position with the city of Beaumont in Feb 2020.
George Crum, CCPD's chief before Walker's arrival, returned from retirement to serve as interim chief. In April 2020, he was named permanent police chief.