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Police Chief: 'I Was Asked to Step Down'

Exiting South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Payne said he was asked to leave, while City Manager Sergio Gonzalez said he did not initiate the departure.

Police Chief: 'I Was Asked to Step Down'

South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Payne submitted his resignation on Jan. 22, but the question remains: Whose idea was it?

"I was asked to step down,'' Payne wrote in an email to Patch Monday afternoon, following the announcement that the department's top cop would re-enter retirement. 

The only city official with the power to ask Payne to leave, City Manager Sergio Gonzalez, refuted that assertion during an afternoon phone interview. Gonzalez reiterated that Payne submitted his resignation from the department last week, after fewer than three years in the position. 

"We had several conversations and the culmination of those conversations happened on Jan. 22 when he submitted his resignation,'' Gonzalez said, adding, "I regularly meet with my department heads, and recently had meetings with the Chief based on where the department is and how he sees himself in the organization.''

Payne's initial statement, following news of his upcoming departure, hinted that leaving was not his idea, though he harbors no ill will toward the city. Payne will stay on the job until Gonzalez names an interim chief. 

Payne retired from the department back in 2007 after 35 years on the job. Then, in 2010, amid residents' questions of propriety regarding the selection process, Payne was named chief of police by then-City Manager John Davidson.

Gonzalez was reticent to comment further about Payne's leaving, citing it as a personnel issue. However, he did compliment Payne's commitment to the community. 

"I think there's no doubt that he’s worked very hard. I have no concerns about the level of work he’s produced. It's obvious he cares deeply about the community and the department,'' he said.

Still, Gonzalez, added, there's an opportunity on the table "to evaluate what the organization is doing right and what we can do better going forward.''

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