Tucson Police Chief celebrates retirement

Published: Dec. 17, 2015 at 9:40 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2016 at 10:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - His last day is Dec. 31, but Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor celebrated his retirement Thursday afternoon with a room full of his family, fellow law enforcement leaders, elected officials and old friends.

More than 20 people representing various agencies like the ATF, Secret Service and Boys & Girls Club spoke to Villaseñor's character and career in Tucson over the last 35 years. Almost each one of the speakers presented the outgoing chief with a plaque or a gift.

But he turned the tables when it was his time to speak at the podium and Villaseñor presented flowers to his wife and hugged his children sitting nearby. He said he never imagined anything like his retirement celebration when he first put on the badge in February 1980.

"If you would've asked me I would've laughed in your face," Villaseñor said. "It has been one heck of a ride. I am so proud of this agency, the people that work for this agency and it's been one of the greatest, proud moments of my life to be able to lead them."

From budget cuts and SB 1070 to body cameras and his appointed to the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the chief has handled plenty since he took over the department. Villaseñor joked that even more has changed since he first joined the force.

"Gone are the days of Jack Friday and just the facts, ma'am," he told the crowd. "And some of you in this room don't even know what I'm talking about."

Villaseñor said he's spoken with his replacement Police Chief Christopher Magnus from Richmond, California, about areas of the department that could use some improvement.

Overall, the outgoing chief said he feels confident in the officers and the leadership that he leaves behind at Tucson Police Department.

"Tucson is my home and, as a multigenerational Tucsonan, I couldn't be more secure leaving this city in their hands," he said.

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