Today Val Demings, the city of Orlando’s first ever female police chief, made the surprise announcement that she would be retiring from her post effective June 1 of this year. Deputy Chief Paul Rooney, currently commanding the Patrol Services Bureau, will take her place. The announcement was made shortly before noon in a packed conference room in City Hall. Mayor Buddy Dyer--still sporting some team-spirit stubble despite the Orlando Magic’s early departure from the NBA playoffs last week—made some introductory remarks. “Under her leadership, there has been the most dramatic decrease in violent crime in the city’s history,” Dyer said. After the formal remarks concluded, the press pooled around Demings, peppering her with questions such as “Will we see you on the ballot in 2012?” and statements such as “You are way too young to retire, obviously.” (This reporter, for the record, asked Demings when she made her decision, which was around December of last year.) “I’m retiring from the Orlando Police Department because I feel like my work at OPD is done,” Demings said. “I could stay there another 10 years and be comfortable. But that’s not the kind of person that I am.” Though the FBI, the State Senate, and even a seat in Congress were proposed by reporters as possible career options, Demings simply replied that she is “weighing several options.” She also implied that her departure isn’t all that unusual, given that, according to her, most city police chiefs remain in their positions an average of three to four years; Demings was appointed in December 2007. Technically, the announcements of the day also included the retirement of Public Works Director Alan Oyler (also effective June 1st); the promotion of city engineer Rick Howard to Oyler’s position, and finally, the naming of Brooke Bonnett as Economic Development Director. But after the conference ended, the entirety of the press descended upon Demings, leaving Howard and Bonnett to depart the room unnoticed. (Oyler is on vacation.)
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