Carmel Pine Cone: Marina police chief to run for sheriff

By Mary Schley

Marina Police Chief Tina Nieto, who spent nearly three decades with LAPD and was a captain in the U.S. Army reserve, is running for Monterey County Sheriff. 

Nieto has overseen the Marina department since 2017 and said with her extensive experience she is well qualified to run the sheriff’s office, which has a $135,027,492 budget for 2021-2022 and employs more than 450 people. 

“Knowing my background, knowing that I run large organizations, knowing that my commitment to Marina is coming to an end regarding what I said I was going to do, I decided to run for sheriff,” she told The Pine Cone. 

Sheriff Steve Bernal announced several weeks ago that he will retire at the end of his term. “I was also encouraged by other police chiefs,” she said, adding that she’s received the endorsement of former Camel Police Chief Paul Tomasi. 

Initially, Nieto said she wasn’t going to run but then reconsidered, “because the deputies and staff deserve something more — they deserve strong leadership.” 

Leadership experience

Her resume features a lot of leadership roles. Prior to becoming Marina’s chief, she held the rank of commanding officer at the huge LAPD for a decade and notes she was the first Hispanic woman in the organization to reach that rank. 

She was on the design team for the West Point Leadership Program, taught diversity at the LAPD Academy, and has been a guest speaker at leadership conferences. This month, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed her to a three-year term on the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training, which sets minimum selection and training standards for law enforcement. The POST Commission “forms a balanced group of city and county administrators, law enforcement professionals, educators and public members,” according to Nieto, and has 15 members. 

“Two critical pieces of legislation that the POST Commission has been tasked to implement SB 2, which creates a system to investigate and revoke or suspend peace officer certification for serious misconduct, and SB 16, which increases transparency over peace officer misconduct records,” her announcement said. 

Nieto is also president of the Monterey County Chief Law Enforcement Association and serves on Monterey County’s Restorative Justice Commission, Emergency Medical Care Committee, and the Medical Operations Subcommittee. 

She received her Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from CSU Fullerton and her master’s in leadership and management from the University of La Verne, and has participated in numerous executive leadership programs, as well as received awards locally, nationally and internationally for her “work with diverse communities,” she said. Nieto also described herself as “a life-long learner.” 

“I’m truly a collaborator,” she said. “I understand the office of the sheriff is an elected official and you have certain powers, but you have to work with people to get stuff done.” 

From the Carmel Pine Cone