Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Public Safety

La Mesa Police Chief Announces Retirement

La Mesa police Chief Walt Vasquez in an undated photo.
City of La Mesa
La Mesa police Chief Walt Vasquez in an undated photo.

La Mesa Police Department Chief Walt Vasquez will retire this month, ending a 34-year career in San Diego-area law enforcement, the department announced Friday.

Vasquez, who has been chief since April 2015, had planned to retire this year but delayed his departure when the coronavirus pandemic arrived in force in mid-March, remaining in his role to help the city handle the emergency.

In announcing his departure, which will become effective Aug. 27, Vasquez thanked the ranks of his department for their consistent support and dedication while he was chief.


"Over the past five years, our team has worked very hard to keep the citizens of La Mesa safe," he said.

RELATED: La Mesa Announces Investigation On Police Response The Night Of Protests

"The decrease in property and violent crimes in the city from 2015 to 2019 has been the largest decrease of all incorporated cities in San Diego County."

In recent months, Vasquez has presided over tumultuous events, including the contentious arrest of a young Black man near Grossmont Transit Center in late May, and a raucous civil rights and anti-police-brutality protest that devolved into violence, looting and arson in downtown La Mesa three days later.

Vasquez began his law enforcement career in 1986 as an officer with the San Diego Police Department. After joining the La Mesa Police Department, he rose through the ranks to assistant chief before becoming the department's 11th chief.


Chula Vista Police Department Chief Roxana Kennedy, the president the San Diego County Police Chiefs' and Sheriff's Association, praised Vasquez "as a leader of unmatched integrity and compassion."

"Especially during these unprecedented times, Walt has shown what calm and steady leadership and an experienced leader can mean to a community," Kennedy said.

"Despite recent challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest, he has shown an unwavering commitment to serving the people of La Mesa with heart and dedication."

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.