Long Beach officials have hired Nassau County Police chief of support as the city’s next police commissioner.
The city selected Ronald J. Walsh over acting Police Commissioner Phil Ragona after a six-month search and review and a public panel discussion with Walsh and Ragona as finalists.
City Manager Donna Gayden made the hire, which did not require a City Council vote, but was made with the council’s recommendation, officials said. He will be paid $189,500, with benefits and no contract.
Walsh, 55, of Massapequa, spent 28 years with Nassau County police, including the past two years as chief of support, responsible for "ensuring that all divisions have the necessary infrastructure to efficiently carry out their responsibilities."
"Ron really has an incredibly broad and successful professional profile, which makes him exceptionally qualified for this job," City Council president John Bendo said in a statement. "But most important is that he is deeply committed to the kind of community-based policing and public safety that Long Beach deserves."
Walsh could not be reached for comment. He is expected to start in January.
Walsh started as a Long Beach volunteer and summer special officer before he was hired as a federal special agent in Manhattan. He rose within the Nassau police ranks, from an officer to chief, and worked as a commanding officer at the Nassau County police academy.
Walsh assisted Long Beach in its recent cyberattack that disabled the city’s network and computer system.
"This is a bit of a homecoming, an incredible opportunity, and I’m honored that the city’s leaders believe in my vision for how policing must evolve in alignment with the community’s needs," Walsh said in a statement through the city.
Walsh becomes the fourth police commissioner in the past year, following the retirement of 40-year Police Commissioner Michael Tangney, acting Commissioner Ed Ryan and Ragona.
Ragona, a 27-year Long Beach police veteran, had vied for the permanent position after the city narrowed down the list from four finalists. Walsh and Ragona appeared in a public forum on Zoom in October that was moderated by a national selection firm.
Both Walsh and Ragona acknowledged the police department needed to build community trust and enact police reforms to eliminate policing bias.
Ragona resigned Dec. 4. He could not be reached for comment.
The Long Beach PBA Union had advocated for Ragona to continue as commissioner after taking over the position in July and overseeing the management of the beach and boardwalk last summer.
"We hope to have a good relationship with Chief Walsh and working together with the department," PBA president Brain Wells said. "We were in favor of our candidate, but the city council made their decision and we look forward to working with him."