Police Chief Joe Ritchie resigned Friday afternoon, saying he was forced to step down or be fired by the Ogden city manager.
City Manager Robert Hunter declined to comment, other than to say he would let Ritchie's letter of resignation and the chief's comments speak for themselves.The 54-year-old police chief has been with the department for 28 years, serving 16 of those years as chief. He supervised 125 employees and 40 reserve police officers.
Ritchie said he had a meeting with Hunter on Thursday afternoon and the city manager told him he was fired. The chief said the two men negotiated and he decided to resign, effective 4 p.m. Friday.
Hunter appointed Capt. Robert Warren as chief and Warren was sworn in on Friday. He'll remain head of the department until his retirement at the end of the month. Hunter said he planned to promote someone within the department to serve as chief by May 1.
Ritchie said he was not pleased with the outcome of his career. "I had visions of leaving this department with my head high," he said. "But that's not the way it works."
The chief said Hunter told him he had to go because the city manager felt it was time for a change, that they had two different philosophies about how the department should be run.
When asked how the City Council and mayor felt about his resignation, Ritchie replied, "I think the City Council considers me a decent police chief."
Under the city charter, only the city manager has the power to hire and fire, not the council or mayor.
Mayor Scott Sneddon said Friday that he was sorry to see Ritchie leave. "He's an outstanding chief," the mayor said.
Sneddon said he learned of the chief's resignation Friday morning and that he had no knowledge that Ritchie may have been forced to resign. He also said that he supported Hunter as city manager.
Councilman David Haun said he learned of the resignation Thursday night and that he had no comment on the situation.
"Knowing the type of person that Bob Hunter is . . . his decision-making process is that he tries to do what's best for the public," said Haun. "I trust his (Hunter's) judgment."
Ritchie said he is sad to leave the department but admitted that he has been looking for work elsewhere for sometime now.
"I've been looking," he said. "It's probably time to look for other alternatives. I'm proud that I'm the longest-tenured chief in the history of this department. I'm also very concerned about the welfare of this department. They're (officers) the finest in the state. And police chiefs make enemies. Hunter is listening to the wrong people."