Police Chief Robert Luna to retire at end of year

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna informed city officials Thursday that he plans to retire at the end of the year.

“After many weeks of reflection and thoughtful consideration, I have made plans to retire at the end of this year,” Luna said in an email to city officials. “I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve this city for the past 36 years and it has been a true honor and privilege to serve as Chief of Police for the last seven.”

The chief wasn’t immediately available for an interview.

Luna, 55, was sworn in as the city’s 26th police chief on Nov. 22, 2014 after working with the department for 29 years. The first Latino to hold the job, he began as a reserve police officer in Long Beach in 1985 and entered the basic police academy in 1987, according to the city.

The chief said in his email that his most rewarding experiences have been the “opportunity to be a part of this leadership team who has helped to craft innovative programs, initiatives and strategies to make our Department a true 21st century police department.”

In a written statement, Mayor Robert Garcia said the city has been grateful to have had Luna as head of the department.

“I have served with him since my early days as mayor and he’s been an incredible partner and friend,” the mayor said.

City Manager Tom Modica said Luna “is the truest example of a public servant, putting others before self, and showing constant leadership, dedication, and commitment to his profession, his employees, and his community.”

Though Luna has been widely praised by city officials for his leadership, his tenure has not come without controversy.

The announcement comes amid a shooting surge that has plagued the city for months, including high-profile incidents such as the June shooting outside Hooters in Downtown that wounded three.

The past 15 months have been particularly contentious for police following the murder of George Floyd that spawned mass protests across the country, including Long Beach. The chief was criticized by some for his handling of a protest that led to looting and rioting on May 31.

The chief also faced national backlash after a department photo surfaced showing dozens of maskless officers in close proximity during a training session amid the COVID19 pandemic.

During his time on the force, Luna promoted through every rank within the department and has gained experience in disaster and emergency preparedness, and terrorism and critical incident management, according to the city.

“Our command staff is well positioned to continue our department’s important work to protect and serve our community,” Luna wrote in his email. “I am looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of my life will bring and I am so fortunate to have served alongside each and every one of you.”

Further information on the selection process for Luna’s replacement will be announced “in the near future,” the city said in a statement.

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.
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