From his earliest memories, Darin Lenyi has wanted to be in law enforcement.
The profession, he says, provides the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many. Throughout his career, Lenyi has done just that.
“It’s a profession where truly, you can make a difference,” Lenyi says. “When done right, you impact many people. It’s a profession that matters. It matters if you’re doing the right things, and it matters if you’re doing the wrong things. Of course, we want all of our officers to do all the right things.”
With two Medals of Courage, two Medals of Merit, the Distinguished Service Medal, and several ribbons to his name, as well as a 5-year stint at the helm of the Placentia Police Department, Lenyi has now joined the Westminster Police Department as its Chief of Police.
The Westminster and Placentia police departments, Lenyi says, have many similarities.
Now, he’s getting to know the Westminster Police Department through the eyes of the officers and employees, including the good and the bad, the challenges and the successes, and the changes they would like to see. That feedback will help guide his actions in the months ahead, as well as inform a departmental strategic plan that will lay out long-term goals.
“Based on the projects he had completed, he was definitely driven and successful,” says Interim City Manager Christine Cordon, who interviewed and ultimately hired Lenyi. “When asked if he’s the kind of person that thrives in challenging situations, he said, ‘definitely.’”
During his time at the Placentia Police Department, Lenyi spearheaded an effort to improve retention and morale. The campaign involved increasing communications throughout the department, providing officers with a chance to give input on the organizational direction, and more.
“I’m really proud that more people wanted to continue working there,” he said.
The former self-proclaimed high school trouble-maker got involved in policing as an Explorer.
“The police department and mentors instilled accountability in me, which included – to my dismay at the time – grades,” Lenyi jokes.
Now, with 33 years of sworn law enforcement experience and having had several leadership positions with the Orange County Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association, Lenyi has learned some important lessons: Always remain flexible, he says, even in a world that sometimes isn’t. And always treat your people well, treat your citizens well, and treat others like you want to be treated.
“As basic as that sounds, you can’t go wrong treating people the way you’d treat your own family members,” he says.
At a previous job, Lenyi jokes, he reminded his officers frequently to treat everyone the way they would treat their own mother, noting that his own mother did indeed live in that town.
Lenyi is overseeing the department during a national time of unrest and calls for police reform, in addition to policy changes that will affect how the department and its officers do their jobs.
“Lenyi really loves what he is doing,” Cordon said “He sees this job as a challenge and opportunity, and as a place where he can make a difference. He brings stability to Westminster.”
“I and my department are very blessed to be working for a city like Westminster, where they largely support their law enforcement,” Lenyi said.
As for the residents?
“They’re in good hands with a solid police department with men and women that want to do the right thing, make good choices, and make sure that they are safe, whether they live here, visit here or work here,” Lenyi said.