BREAKING: Police chief to retire

BREAKING: Police chief to retire

Michele Ellson

Updated at 1:25 p.m. Wednesday, March 6

Alameda Police Chief Michael C. Noonan has announced he's planning to retire after 27 years with the local force. His last day is June 1.

“The past 27 years with the Alameda Police Department has been the one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Noonan, 51, was quoted as saying in a city-issued press release. “Having the opportunity to serve as Alameda’s Chief of Police has been a dream-come-true. I have truly been blessed to work in a great community and have great co-workers within both the police department and other city departments.”

Noonan will stay on as a consultant to the department for six months after his retirement, the city's press release says. Captain Paul Rolleri - Noonan's friend and onetime backup officer - will step in as interim chief after Noonan retires. The city hasn't said whether it will conduct a search for its next chief.

Noonan became interim chief of the department in 2010, when then-chief Walt Tibbet left the force to run the Fairfield police department.

In a retirement memo to City Manager John Russo, Noonan noted that he and Russo have been through some difficult times together but said he thinks they are stronger for it. Noonan was interim chief when 53-year-old Raymond Zack died in the waters off Robert W. Crown State Beach while dozens of police, firefighters and onlookers watched, which prompted an international outcry. He was officially named chief of the department shortly after the incident.

In a portion of the memo released to the press, Noonan also said the department "worked hard to be a transparent organization and gain the trust of this community" during his tenure as chief.

The Fremont native began as an officer at the department in 1986 and has worked as a field training officer and school resource officer. He attained the rank of sergeant in 1998 and rose to a captain's rank a decade later.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund named Noonan its Officer of the Month in September 1997, listing achievements that included a 100 percent hostage negotiation success rate and an "unprecedented" 34 commendations. He was also credited with saving the lives of two people in crisis situations, including someone on a boat in the middle of San Francisco Bay, and with starting the department's school resource officer program.

"He’s one of those guys that just gives and gives and gives and doesn’t expect a reward," then-Sergeant Bill Scott was quoted as saying in a piece on the honor.

Both Russo and Mayor Marie Gilmore praised Noonan's time at the helm of the department.

“This is bittersweet,” Mayor Marie Gilmore was quoted as saying in the release. “Chief Noonan has served our community well throughout his career. He has led Alameda’s Police Department with honor and professionalism. We will miss him, and we wish him all the best.”