HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – City officials confirmed Friday that Hollywood Police Chief Chad Wagner will retire at the end of January as part of a financial agreement offered by the city.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reports Wagner, who has been with the city since January 1983, has to retire because he is in his last year of the Deferred Retirement Option Plan — or DROP — which allowed public servants to “retire,’’ while still working and earning a salary. (The program is no longer an option in Hollywood).
DROP allowed participants to collect a pension benefit, but they had to agree to leave at a certain time. Wagner’s time is up in January.
When Wagner began with the department three decades ago, he started as a patrol officer and rose through the ranks. In 2002, he was named an assistant police chief. In 2007, he became the interim chief and was named to the permanent post in 2008.
That same year, Wagner gained national attention when he announced that a deceased drifter, Ottis Toole, killed 6-year-old Adam Walsh, who was abducted from a Sears in 1981. Adam Walsh’s murder inspired the boy’s father, John Walsh, to start the show “America’s Most Wanted”.
At the time, Wagner said, police had substantial circumstantial evidence to point the finger at Toole. In 2010, The Miami Herald investigation found there was more evidence leaning toward Jeffrey Dahmer than Toole.
Wagner, 52, makes about $136,000 as chief.
He declined to comment Friday.
The chief must submit a letter at least 60 days before his retirement, said city spokeswoman Raelin Storey.
The city has not begun the process of selecting a successor for Wagner.
With the city’s upcoming elections and other city business, Storey said “there is a lot going on right now.”
“We will begin a search when the timing is right,” she added.
Miami Beach conducted a six-month search before hiring Raymond Martinez, who had been with the department for about 10 years, as its police chief. The search included several screenings and committee interviews. The process began about three months before former chief Carlos Noriega was set to retire.
In Hollywood, City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark will be the one to hire a replacement, said Storey, but she will work in-tandem with Assistant City Manager Frank Fernandez, who oversees public safety.
The new chief will be inheriting a department that is already at odds with city officials.
The police union has blamed the city for financial mismanagement and has filed lawsuits against the city for slashing salaries pension benefits.
Police Union President Jeff Marano has criticized Swanson-Rivenbark’s decision to hire Fernandez, who retired from Miami Police Department after 25 years in 2010.
“He is a union-breaker,” said Marano. “They want a heavy-handed individual to come down on the PBA membership.”
Marano was hoping Wagner would be able to groom his successor.
But with Wagner’s retirement coming within three months, said Marano, “It’s not looking like that’s going to happen.”
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