Maria Sarasua, MA, EdD
Chief Maria Sarasua is an accomplished law enforcement leader with 30 years of public safety experience. She was appointed Chief of Police of the City of Pacifica in April of 2023 with a longstanding history of delivering innovative police services, building effective community partnerships and bringing a unique perspective on contemporary issues in law enforcement and community engagement.
Early in her career, with both the City of Pleasanton Police Department and the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff, Chief Sarasua served marginalized communities with unique public safety needs and a historic mistrust of police. Chief Sarasua applies her experiential learning to model inclusiveness and build trust with members of her organization and the community. After the historic events of 2020, then Lt. Sarasua served in a leadership role during public meetings with elected officials concerning police use of force policies, alternative response to mental health crises, police oversight models and best practices for community engagement.
Approaching organizational change with a growth mindset is how Chief Sarasua encourages future leaders to be resilient and adaptive during crises. Her passion for building teams and sharing her broad spectrum of operational, investigative and administrative experience reflects her commitment to succession planning. In 2017, then Lt. Sarasua received the “Trailblazer Award” from the California Peace Officers’ Association for her outstanding impact through leadership.
In 2010, Chief Sarasua founded the Bay Area non-profit organization, Bridgewatch Angels. During all major holidays, she mobilizes thousands of volunteers to engage in suicide prevention on the Golden Gate Bridge, earning her the Jefferson Award for inspiring and activating volunteerism and public service in communities. She also leads humanitarian efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
Chief Sarasua holds a Master of Arts Degree in Leadership from St. Mary’s College and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco. In 2018, she received her Executive Education Certificate in Public Leadership from Harvard University and graduated from the POST Command College.