Last month’s exodus of San Diego Police officers ranged from younger officers to 30 year-veterans, including two assistant chiefs and William Lansdowne, who retired after 11 years as chief.
It also included a captain who spent most of his career near where he grew up, and a national expert in elder abuse cases. Here are profiles of five of the veterans.
• Capt. Tony McElroy, 56, grew up in the Skyline neighborhood and spent much of his 32-year career in southeastern San Diego.
He worked in SWAT, gangs, narcotics, air support, Homeland Security, and neighborhood policing. He says his best assignments were juvenile diversion, and serving as community liaison special assistant under two chiefs.
“It’s been a great career. I loved the community partnerships. I’ve been blessed, but it’s time. I want to spend more time with my grandkids,” McElroy said. “I’d like to think I made a positive impact on the communities where I worked.”
• Lt. Sean Murphy, 56, retired from 32 years on the force. His last assignment was to run the K-9 unit.
He also was on SWAT for 20 years, worked patrol and traffic, and stalked robbers in the dark canyons along the Mexican border as part of the Border Crimes Prevention Unit.
“Our primary focus was to protect people coming through the canyons at night,” Murphy said. “The number of robberies and assaults and murders dropped significantly. We were in full uniform and a couple of times people walked up to us and tried to rob us.”
He said he would have stayed on longer, but “it’s time to start a new path” that will include traveling and continuing to teach at the police academy.
• Detective Leslie Albrecht, 51, left SDPD after 27, including two years as a property room clerk before graduating from the police academy. She and her father, Assistant Chief Mike Rice, were the first father-daughter combo on the department.
After being promoted to detective in 2000, she was one of the first in the new elder abuse unit, becoming a nationwide expert in the field. Her last five years were in the sex crimes unit. Albrecht said the physical toll of being a cop prompted her to retire before age 55.
• Officer John L. Reese, 58, spent 32 years patrolling the city on ATVs, bicycles and cars. He worked on the city’s first
In downtown’s Central Division, Reese was one of the first to pair with mental health clinicians on a fledgling Psychiatric Emergency Response Team. The clinicians evaluate mentally ill people who may be threatening to hurt themselves or others.
Reese spent 15 years with the program, and was gratified when clients would get treatment and then jobs. “That was one of the positive roles I had,” he said.
• Lt. David Mitchell, 60, left after 24 years as a patrol officer in every division and tours through SWAT, juvenile services, K-9 and gang units, then Central Division.
Career highlights, he said, included a lifesaving award for giving CPR to a woman who stopped breathing at her home, and being in on the rescue of a man gang members kidnapped for ransom.
Mitchell also took part in the Coalition for Justice, drafting guidelines for officers to avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations while trying to enforce laws off-duty. Prompted by the 2006 shooting of Chargers linebacker Steve Foley by an off-duty Coronado police officer, the guidelines were accepted by police agencies around the county. “That was rewarding,” Mitchell said.
He said he enjoyed his years of service to the community, but signed up for DROP when it appeared that the city would trim officers’ benefits packages. email@example.com (619) 293-1865 Twitter @pdrepard