Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh has resigned from his post, the city announced Wednesday night.
Walsh, who has served as Lompoc’s top law enforcement officer since September 2014, will continue in his role for “several months” and work with City Manager Jim Throop to aid in the city’s transition to his successor, according to city spokeswoman Samantha Scroggin.
On Wednesday afternoon, Walsh declined to comment on what, if anything, triggered his decision, but he released a statement through the city expressing confidence in the department’s future.
“I have enjoyed my 35 years of law enforcement, and would not change a thing,” he said, according to that statement. “It is time for the fine men and women of the Lompoc Police Department to take the lead and carry on. I can think of no better people to guide the Lompoc Police Department into the future. Lompoc is a special community full of people who genuinely care about this city, and it has been my honor to call Lompoc residents my friends and neighbors”.
Throop said that Walsh will be missed in Lompoc.
“Chief Pat Walsh has done an outstanding job leading the Lompoc Police Department,” Throop said, according to the city. “He exemplifies community policing at its finest, and can always be found out in the neighborhoods, getting to know those his department serves and protects. Chief Walsh is well-loved in Lompoc, and his departure will leave a hole in the heart of the Lompoc Valley. We are grateful for Chief Walsh’s time with our city.”
Walsh has been active in the community since taking over as chief more than four years ago.
He made it a point to participate in neighborhood walks and to meet residents, and was the driving force last year behind the city's cleanup of the Santa Ynez Riverbed, portions of which had transformed over the past several years into a campsite for many of the area's homeless residents.
To aid in the homeless situation last year, Walsh also appointed an officer as a "homeless liaison" to work with people living on the streets and to connect them with service organizations.
Walsh was nominated for the Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize in 2015 for his community involvement.
Walsh drew criticism from some residents, however, for his anti-marijuana stances as the city moved forward in the development of its cannabis ordinance following the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016.
In 2017, Walsh also raised concerns about the state of the Lompoc Police Department. During a presentation that June to the Lompoc City Council, he cited several challenges facing the department, including budget woes, an inability to retain personnel, difficulties with bringing on new employees, expected rises in crime and reductions in the services the department provides to the community.
It is unclear if any of those issues played a role in his resignation.
Walsh started his career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1984. In 1991, he began working for the Portland Police Bureau before ultimately making his way to Lompoc.