After weeks of searching and consideration by the San Clemente City Council, the City of San Clemente announced Monday afternoon, Jan. 9, that Capt. James “Jay” Christian will be the new chief of Police Services.
Christian replaces the outgoing Capt. Tony Benfield, who was promoted to commander of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Investigation Division after serving the city for nearly 18 months. Benfield’s last day serving San Clemente will be Thursday, Jan. 12, and Christian will begin his term Friday, Jan. 13.
In the city’s media release announcing the new chief, Mayor Chris Duncan thanked Benfield for his “dedication and capable leadership” and welcomed Christian to the position.
“We are confident that, since he has previously served as an OCSD Investigator in San Clemente and has lived here with his family for the past eight years, Captain Christian will quickly assimilate local knowledge and serve our community well for many years to come,” Duncan said.
Christian has been with OCSD since 1997, with roles including: lieutenant of Custody Operations at Central Jail; sergeant of Internal Affairs in the Professional Standards Division; sergeant of Investigations in the North Operations Division; investigator at San Clemente Police Services; and as an investigator in the Homicide Detail of OCSD’s Criminal Investigations Bureau.
An OCSD official said in the city’s announcement that Capt. Christian “comes to San Clemente with a deep knowledge of the community, its values, and its priorities as they relate to community-oriented policing.”
Duncan told San Clemente Times during a recent sit-down interview that he desired to improve public safety within the town and to provide Police Services with all the necessary resources during his time as mayor.
Christian will be introduced as the new chief during the City Council’s next meeting on Jan. 17.