MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach police chief Carlos Noriega, whose final year in office has been marked by problems with officers under his command, will end his control of the department Friday, according to a letter sent by City Manager Jorge Gonzalez.

Noriega officially retires at the end of the year, but there had been widespread speculation he would leave early, at least partly due to the events of Urban Beach Weekend, where police officers shot and killed a tourist during an event many city residents claimed got out of control.

Officers under Noriega’s command were disciplined or fired after their involvement with an ATV mishap on the beach where an officer who had been spotted partying at a nearby hotel, while on duty, drove over some tourists while carrying a woman on the back of the police ATV.

Noriega’s handling of both events brought sharp criticism, but despite calls for his resignation he remained in charge of the department until Friday.

In the letter to the Miami Beach Commission, Gonzalez said Noriega will take the rest of the year as leave and vacation time, and will officially retire at the end of the year.

While Noriega technically remains Chief, Gonzalez said he “will no longer be responsible for the day-to-day command and administrative oversight of our police department.” That job will fall to Assistant Chief Raymond Martinez, the department’s highest ranking officer.

Anticipating Noriega’s retirement, a national search for a new chief is already underway. Gonzalez said in his letter to commissioners that 50 applications has been received as of Friday, and the city expects to select Noriega’s replacement in February 2012.

Noriega will retire after serving 27 years in the Miami Beach Police Department.