Yuma, Arizona - Deputy Police Chief Susan Smith will be the next chief of the Yuma Police Department, City Administrator Greg Wilkinson announced Wednesday at the regular meeting of the Yuma City Council.

Smith has been Deputy Police Chief with the City since 2012. She has been employed as a sworn officer in different ranks with YPD since 1995. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration/management and an associate’s degree in criminal justice.

“With her background, experience and leadership while bringing in a number of new technologies and the changing environment, I know she is the best choice to continue to keep the department and the City running at the high level that it does, and will build and grow upon that,” Wilkinson said.

Having previously been the first female to earn the ranks of lieutenant, captain, and deputy chief, Smith also becomes Yuma’s first female chief.

The City had received approximately 50 applications from around the country once the position was advertised. After applications were pre-screened, a selection committee that included Wilkinson and two other police chiefs from the Southwest who were not candidates came up with nine semifinalists, seven of whom were unanimous choices. An initial round of interviews led to three finalists who were brought in for in-person interviews and a meet-and-greet session with the public last week.

“All three candidates were very good, and any one of them was more than capable of being the next chief,” Wilkinson said. “I received a lot of input both internal and external to the City, some positive and some negative, which I appreciate and listened to everyone who provided it.”

Smith will replace John Lekan, who had previously announced his retirement after having served with YPD for 33 years. He has been YPD chief since 2012. Lekan’s last day is March 28.