Greg Savelli

Greg Savelli

Former Hermosa Beach Police Chief Greg Savelli, who served from July 2006 to January 2012, passed away last week from unreported causes.

In a statement, the Hermosa Beach Police Department said it mourned the loss of its former chief.

“During his tenure at HBPD, Chief Savelli strengthened our city’s Neighborhood Watch program, he introduced our civilian Volunteers in Policing and Crisis Response Team programs, and he re-introduced our Police Chaplain program, horse mounted patrols for special events, and our K9 program,” read the statement.

Former Hermosa Beach City Manager Tom Bakaly, who is now the Beach Cities Health District's chief executive officer, said Savelli performed his job with passion and that he would be missed.

“In Greg’s five years as police chief in Hermosa he professionalized the force which resulted in formal accreditation,” Bakaly said. “He  implemented neighborhood watch and community policing with the help of active and engaged citizens. He worked closely with downtown establishments and traditional events to better comply with regulations and began to address community impacts.”

According to a Facebook post from the Hermosa Beach Police Officers Association, Savelli began his law enforcement career in 1975 as a reserve officer and part time dispatcher with the Mill Valley Police Department. He was a full-time officer at Mill Valley from 1979 to 1984 when he transferred to the San Rafael Police Department, where he worked until 1987. At the Cathedral City Police Department, until he left in 2002, he was detective, sergeant and lieutenant.

At the Modesto Police Department, where he worked as a captain from 2003 to 2006, he managed the Laci Peterson murder investigation. Her husband Scott Peterson was later arrested and convicted of murdering his wife and their prenatal son Conner.

After five years on the job as Hermosa Beach chief, Savelli became chief of Parking Enforcement Operations and Traffic Control for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, from 2012 until his retirement in 2018.

According to an article in The Daily Breeze in January 2012, Savelli came to a police department in 2005 that was “reeling from controversy involving several officers and three Pier Avenue patrons who claimed they where mistreated and wrongly arrested by officers.”

That incident led to lawsuits and investigations. A civil rights and wrongful termination action by an officer at the center of the scandal was settled with a nearly $140,000 payment, according to the story.

“He took over a department that wasn’t managed as well as it could have been,” Councilmember Michael DiVirgilio said in the article. “He did a terrific job, and it showed in a couple of places.”

In November 2013, Savelli ran for Hermosa Beach City Council and fell short a few hundred votes to fill one of three seats.

A memorial service is planned for sometime in the next two weeks, according to Hermosa Beach Police. 

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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