La Mesa Police Chief announces retirement

LA MESA — Nearly three years after he was named La Mesa Police Chief and almost 30 years after starting his public safety career in the city, La Mesa native Ed Aceves has announced his retirement

Aceves, 50, was hired as police chief from within the La Mesa Police Department in October 2011, replacing Alan Lanning, who had retired after 35 years with the department.

A 1982 Helix High graduate, Aceves began his career with La Mesa police as a reserve officer in 1985 and was hired full time in 1986. He was promoted to sergeant in 1997, lieutenant in 2002 and captain in 2005. He earns just over $14,000 per month. His pension will be about $11,500 to $12,000 a month.

"It's been a difficult decision, but one I feel is certainly right for me and my family," Aceves said. "A lot of things went into my decision. One, I have probably neglected my family. This job takes a lot out of you, and it's a big responsibility. I've been married for almost 25 years now and have two kids, 21 and 23. This is the right time for me and my family. I don't have any firm plans (for retirement) but I am going to take some time to decompress and probably do some traveling, visit my kids, spend time with my wife and then look to see what's available in the future."

Outgoing City Councilman Ernie Ewin said having a hometown police chief has been positive for La Mesa.

"There's nothing like someone who was born here, played here, was educated here and had his family here," Ewin said. "It makes a big difference to have community ties."

Aceves said he appreciated the fact that he was "leaving the organization on my own terms," and said he enjoyed his relationship with the city, its employees and the City Council. He said he has "a very biased view" but that he feels La Mesa has one of the best police departments in San Diego County.

He said he will stay on as chief until a replacement is selected, possibly as long as six months from now, and would help in interviewing if asked. There were no internal candidates, he said, so the city will be looking at an outsider to fill his position.

City Manager Dave Witt said the search will start now.

"It's probably been said, but far and away, Ed has done an outstanding job as chief the last three years, after a long, long career with the department," Witt said. "Not only was he great chief for the department, but he's been a key part of our management team for the city and over the last few years, a great representative for La Mesa in regional police agencies, playing a significant role."

Aceves came under some fire in August when a La Mesa police dispatcher wasn’t investigated or disciplined for making off-duty, blunt comments online about African-American crime suspects and race relations. At that time, Aceves said the dispatcher had free speech protections.

He said he stands by the way he handled the situation, and has responded to people who called or emailed their concerns about it.

he facts of this case, you cannot discipline this employee because it's ... protected speech. I couldn't discipline the dispatcher even if I wanted to, legally."

El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman, who was similarly hired from within El Cajon's department ranks in November 2011, said he felt Aceves has done a wonderful job.

"Ed and I have worked very well together over the past three years and have collaborated on a number of crime fighting efforts, all with the shared goal of keeping East County safe," Redman said.

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