Palo Alto Police Chief Lynne Johnson will retire and leave her job Dec. 19, City Manager James Keene announced Thursday following an assembly of virtually all officers in the department.
Johnson has been the target of a firestorm of protest since she stated Oct. 30 at a community crime-prevention meeting that she had instructed officers to make "consensual contact" with black men who match the description of a man who was targeting women walking alone and stealing their purses.
Deputy Chief Dennis Burns will become acting police chief upon Johnson's departure. Her official retirement date is Feb. 3, Keene said.
Her remarks were reported worldwide as condoning illegal "racial profiling." She has since repeatedly apologized for her "misspoken" comments and cited decades of her 34 years with the Palo Alto Police Department during which she was an advocate of fair treatment of everyone.
Keene told the Weekly late Thursday afternoon that the decision to retire was Johnson's, but acknowledged they have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss the situation and "talk about where she's going and what she's thinking."
"I did not demand her resignation or tell her I was going to fire her," Keene said. He said Lynne was considering retiring prior to the Oct. 30 comments.
"It's still a tough decision for her, after 34 years with the department," Keene said.
"It's a tough day in the police department."
View the press release (PDF)