Los Angeles Police Capt. Robert M. Smitson abruptly left his job as commander of the Northeast Division last week, just two weeks after taking the post and one day before he was officially cleared of allegations that he received overtime pay while moonlighting as a college instructor, police said.
Los Angeles Police Cmdr. William Booth said Smitson, 49, will retire effective Feb. 22. Smitson had been appointed to the post Jan. 12 to replace Capt. Robert Taylor, who was named to head the department's Hollywood Division. Smitson, who was on medical leave at the time of his appointment, assumed his new duties the last week in January.
Booth said that Smitson was not asked to retire in connection with the investigation.
"Smitson is honorably retiring after 28 years of distinguished service," Booth said. "As far as I know, it was a personal and private decision."
A new commander of the Northeast Division will be appointed later this month, Booth said. The division serves Atwater, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Mount Washington.
The acting Northeast Division commander, Capt. Clayton Mayes, said Smitson removed his personal items from his office Feb. 4. That day, the department's inspection and control section announced that an internal audit found no evidence of misconduct by Smitson.
The investigation reportedly centered on allegations that Smitson received overtime pay while moonlighting as a college instructor during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Mayes said Smitson told him that, after 28 years with the department, "It is time to do something else."
Smitson, who could not be reached for comment, joined the Los Angeles Police Department in February, 1958.
Another top-ranking Los Angeles police official said that Smitson, who had been assigned to clean up the troubled Hollywood Division in 1982 and later was in charge of security at Exposition Park during the Olympics, was upset by the allegations that had surfaced late last fall. The official said that Smitson waited to learn the results of the investigation before leaving his job.
"He wasn't going to go out under a cloud," said the official, who requested anonymity. "He toughed it out."
Smitson was appointed commander of the department's Anti-Terrorist Division in January, 1985. He went on medical leave Nov. 20 after complaining of chest pains and numbness in his left arm.