Laguna Beach police chief will leave city after less than 5 months on the job

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Laguna Beach Police Chief Robert Thompson. Courtesy of Laguna Beach

The Laguna Beach police chief will depart less than five months into his tenure as the city’s top cop, according to a city press release on Friday.

Police Chief Robert Thompson was on-boarded in January after serving as the police chief in Dixon, Calif. His last day with Laguna Beach will be May 28, according to a press release. Capt. Jeff Calvert is the interim police chief effective Friday, city officials said.

“The public safety of our community is paramount, and I have full faith that Captain Calvert will guide the Laguna Beach Police Department through this transition to ensure community and police force safety,” City Manager John Pietig said in a prepared statement.

Thompson was not immediately available for comment late Friday.

City officials offered no details about the outgoing chief’s exit, only saying city management and Thompson, “agreed to conclude their employment relationship.”

Thompson brought 26 years of law enforcement experience to the job, including a stint as a supervisory special agent with the FBI field office in Fairfield, Calif. He succeeded retired police chief Laura Farinella, who broke historic barriers as the department’s first female police chief.

The Laguna Beach Police Employees Association’s Executive Board of Directors expressed its sadness and disappointment in the news of Thompson’s departure on Friday.

“Chief Thompson was precisely what our department and members needed,” the Association said in a prepared statement. “In his short time here, Chief Thompson recognized several issues and worked tirelessly to address them one by one. Change is difficult, but sometimes it is necessary for the benefit of all. Under Chief Thompson’s leadership, employee morale has vastly improved, productivity and efficiency have increased dramatically, and we are on route to becoming the world-class police department that our citizens deserve.”

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Daniel is currently managing editor for the Laguna Beach Independent. He first started reporting on Laguna Beach in 2018. Daniel moved to Orange County from his hometown of Santa Barbara in 2008 to attend Chapman University. He wrote for the college newspaper, The Panther, for nearly four years before obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English with an emphasis in journalism. While attending Chapman, he started interning at the Orange County Register as a community blogger in Orange. In 2012, he was hired as a staff writer covering Orange and Villa Park. He went on to cover the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum as well as housing, development, education, water, and local politics in other Orange County cities. Since leaving the Register in 2015, he has written for Law360, the Foothills Sentry, the Newport Beach Independent, the Laguna Beach Independent, Los Angeles Times Community News, BehindtheBadge.com, and the California Business Journal. When Daniel isn't busy covering Laguna Beach, he serves as ​engagement editor for a nonprofit newsroom, The War Horse. He lives in Irvine with his wife and son.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Captain Calvert is a very experienced person who has served our community very well. I certainly hope that he gets the permanent job!

  2. Dig Deeper? It’s clear (just open your eyes): Insanity Is Everywhere and he’s a level headed normal educated man who’s leaving the snake pit of loosers.

  3. Yes, several people know “WHY,” but when it comes to these agencies, employer-employee information and contractual or working condition disputes, and if memory serves negotiations thereof, are sheltered, privileged/protected and on a “need to know” basis under the law.
    We may never know unless there’s a leak, including City Council closed session discussions…….so considering how much of blabber mouth sieve several of our Council are, I’d wager that we’ll know by next Friday’s LB INDY edition (“A reliable source revealed today that…..”).
    An anonymous source in the OCR article comments section alleges that the top 3 of our upper echelon officers in essence created a coup, made the Chief’s life miserable. That’s typical rumor mill grist.
    Which is why I believe avatars or pseudonyms should be disallowed, if person won’t identify themselves then no posting. Free speech rights shouldn’t include no accountability.

  4. IMO the statement released here from the LB Police Employee Association in this StuNews article carries the most weight. It’s pretty clear our police employees just lost an experienced and proven leader they respected and could have positively thrived under had they had the chance. I want to thank Chief Thompson for having such an impact on our police officers over such a short time. Hopefully, the rumors of internal turmoil and low morale will continue to be addressed. It’s never too late.

    “The Laguna Beach Police Employees’ Association Executive Board of Directors issued the following statement on Friday regarding Thompson’s resignation:
    “We are saddened and disappointed in the news of Chief Robert Thompson’s departure. Chief Thompson was precisely what our department and members needed. In his short time here, Chief Thompson recognized several issues and worked tirelessly to address them one by one. Change is difficult, but sometimes it is necessary for the benefit of all. Under Chief Thompson’s leadership, employee morale has vastly improved, productivity and efficiency have increased dramatically, and we are on route to becoming the world-class police department that our citizens deserve.”

  5. Good grief. There have been rumors of high turn-over among City Staff for years, but even a new, popular Chief of Police? This is ridiculous. What’s going on with City Management?

  6. I cry foul. If in fact he was pushed out by the insider group at the Police Department, as is rumored, why on earth didn’t the City Manager, who HIRED him, have his back??? Why is our new City Manager turning a blind eye to what’s going on in the PD??? This is so disturbing on so many levels. And why, why are residents, who pay everyone’s salary, not told the truth??? And why is the City Council not asking the most important questions? This is a major loss to Laguna and I’m shocked that no one intervened. Or maybe I’m not. Seems like business as usual here in Laguna.

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