Tony Best has spent more than 25 years with the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department — and now he’s officially at the top of the chain of command.
Best, who has been acting police chief since November, was ceremonially sworn in as the top cop last week, completing his rise from dispatcher and jailer to the head of law enforcement for the tiny city on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Best became the permanent chief on Feb. 1, according to a staff report.
His annual salary is $182,000, according to that report, though he could see performance-related pay bumps over the next five years. He will also make 18,000 a year in deferred compensation and receive an $825 uniform allowance annually.
Best began with the city in 1995, the same year he left the U.S. Marine Corps, and became a police officer two years later. He rose through the ranks, serving as commander of both the Patrol and Support Services divisions. Yet, he said it was never his ambition to be police chief.
“I just wanted to be a good police officer,” Best said in a recent phone interview. “Twenty-five years later, we’re still here.”
But, the new chief said, he is honored to hold the post. Best, a 2016 graduate of the FBI National Academy, said his highest priorities are to keep the city a safe place to live, work and visit. Another top priority is hiring three police officers and one dispatcher — though that could be a challenge.
“Everybody is hiring at the same time,” Best said, “so there’s a lot of competition.”
But, Best added, he’s optimistic.
“We have a really good department,” he said. “I have a lot of good people working with me, so I’m excited about the future.”
Best, who has a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach and a master’s from National University, received enthusiastic support from city leaders, including Mayor Michael Kemps and City Manager Manager Laura Guglielmo, the latter of whom said in a statement that the new chief is “the right person at exactly the right time.”
The PVE Police Department has had challenges recently.
For one, when Best was named acting chief in December, he became the third person in a year to lead the law enforcement agency.
And one of his predecessors, retired PVE police Chief Daniel Dreiling — who was brought back to fill the gap after former chief Mark Velez retired in April 2020 — helped an ad hoc committee the City Council created to examine the future of the department.
There were some discussions about possibly contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, as the other Palos Verdes Peninsula cities do. But the City Council ultimately voted against doing that earlier this year.
“That reaffirms the community’s support,’ Best said, “for local police, local control.