HUNTINGTON BEACH (CNS) - Acting Huntington Beach Police Department Chief Kelly Rodriguez announced her retirement Thursday, citing “an unhealthy divisiveness'' in the community and fought back against rumors she was forced out.
Rodriguez's announcement concludes a 24-year career with the city.
“I have loved being part of this amazing police department and had been looking forward to serving as the acting chief,'' Rodriguez said in a statement.
“However, there is an unhealthy level of divisiveness right now in our community and I have no desire to be thrust into the middle of the political fights that are currently occurring.''
Rodriguez disputed rumors circulating on social media that she was forced by City Manager Oliver Chi to resign.
“There is no truth whatsoever to the false claims that City Manager Oliver Chi asked me to retire,'' Rodriguez said. “In fact, he has been among my most ardent supporters, and has asked repeatedly that I stay onboard as the acting chief.
“However, I don't want to be part of the escalating conflict that is occurring, and I want to urge everyone to realize that at some point, we need to come together to find consensus and common ground.''
Chi said he has great respect for Rodriguez and continues to believe she is the right choice to lead the department.
“During the past few days, she and I have had multiple discussions about the best path forward for our police department, and I have told Kelly that her leadership is what we need,'' Chi said.
“However, given the intensity of the political conflicts that are occurring in Huntington Beach, while disappointed, I certainly understand and respect her decision to retire, and admire her humility and courage in trying to help calm a tense situation.
“All of us could learn something from her example.''
Rodriguez joined the department as a patrol officer in 1997. She became a sergeant in 2008 and captain in 2017. She was named assistant chief in December 2018.
Rodriguez is credited with the creation of the department's mounted enforcement unit and establishing the city's homeless response task force.
Rodriguez's retirement is effective Nov. 13.
Photo: City of Huntington Beach