Deputy Police Chief Daniel R. Sullivan, the highest-ranking Los Angeles police official in the San Fernando Valley, announced Wednesday that he will retire from the force after a 25-year career.
Sullivan, an outspoken and frequently controversial police official who has been assigned to the Police Department's Valley Bureau since 1982, said he will retire Feb. 7 to become a vice president for Paul Chamberlain International, a private detective agency in Beverly Hills.
In an interview, Sullivan, 47, said he has "not been chafing at the bit to leave the department, but 25 years is a long time. I just feel it's time to move on.
"I'm going to be leaving the best police department in the world and joining what I consider to be the best private investigation firm in the world," Sullivan said.
'Loss to LAPD'
Police Chief Daryl F. Gates said Sullivan's retirement will be a "significant loss to the LAPD."
Gates said Sullivan "would have been a leading candidate for the position of chief of police." He said he will miss Sullivan's "willingness to speak out, his quick wit, his innovation and his profound understanding of professional policing."
Sullivan's announcement came as a surprise to his colleagues in the Valley. But during the summer he applied to become Los Angeles County marshal. He was passed over last November in a vote by the county's Municipal Court judges, who gave the position to Acting Marshal Robert F. Mann.
Sullivan, who joined the department in 1961, quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a sergeant in 1966, a lieutenant in 1970, a captain in 1973, a commander in 1976 and a deputy chief in 1979, police spokesman William Booth said. Sullivan has held more than 20 police assignments during his career. Before coming to the Valley, he was deputy chief at the Department's West Bureau, which oversees police operations on the Westside.
Supervised 1,200 Officers
In the Valley, he has been in charge of five police divisions and more than 1,200 officers.
Sullivan, who has a reputation for criticizing that which annoys him, took a humorous parting shot at the City Council, whose decision several years ago to eliminate several deputy chief positions has left no immediate replacement for him of the same rank. "It was a damn poor decision, but you have to consider that's coming from a deputy chief," Sullivan joked.
Cmdr. Kenneth Hickman, most recently assigned to the department's Support Services Bureau and formerly a captain in the department's West Los Angeles, Hollywood and Wilshire divisions, will take over Sullivan's job until Gates makes a promotion to fill the Valley's $89,000-a-year deputy chief post, Booth said.
Although he was assigned to administrative posts for most of his career, Sullivan has a reputation for being a "street cop" at heart.
"He doesn't mind getting his nose dirty if he has to," said Lt. Duane Gansemer, head of the Valley's Forgery Division. "He's hardly someone who is satisfied just moving paper."
When Sullivan was transferred to the Valley in August, 1982, he quickly implemented several strategies that he said proved successful in police assignments.
Among those measures was a crackdown on drunk drivers by creating a police task force that led to establishment of sobriety checkpoints in the Valley. He also began what was an initially belittled practice of passing out "good driver" citations at Thanksgiving to motorists who obeyed driving laws. The citations could be redeemed at the Police Department in exchange for turkeys.
Sullivan also imported a strategy from West Bureau in establishing a 15-member undercover team to take on investigations too big for separate LAPD divisions. The team, known as the Cobra Corps, has made hundreds of felony arrests since it was formed. Being assigned to the team is considered a plum for officers interested in undercover work.
Hollywood High Graduate
Sullivan, a native of Boston who graduated from Hollywood High School in 1955, has lashed out at everything from the City Council, the Police Commission and the judicial system to wealthy Westside Los Angeles residents and California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird.
In his broadside directed at rich Westside residents, Sullivan characterized them as selfish and said they probably would build fences around their homes and not "let anybody in that's black or brown."
Sullivan has also chastised Mayor Tom Bradley, the City Council and the Police Commission. He called them "meddlers" who wanted to play chief of police after they ordered specific cuts in the Police Department's budget rather than allowing Gates to make his own reductions.
While Sullivan was commanding the West Bureau, the Hollywood Division was rocked by allegations that some officers were burglarizing businesses while on duty and others had sexual relations with female Explorer Scouts.
Transferred During Probe