Westminster Police Chief Retires After Stress Leave

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Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker retired quietly on May 1 after being out for more than six months on a worker’s compensation leave, according to assistant city manager Chet Simmons.

Baker took a worker’s compensation medical leave on Oct. 14, which councilwoman Margie Rice characterized as an “administrative stress leave” at a City Council meeting in December.

According to Simmons, deputy chief Dan Schoonmaker will continue to serve as acting chief while the city manager begins vetting candidates.

Baker’s ending annual salary was $202,303 and he paid 9 percent of his salary toward his state pension. Following his paid leave, which counted as hours toward his pension, Baker qualified for a full year’s pension credit.

Baker was appointed chief in 2012, was the third chief in seven years for the city. Baker followed Chief Ron Coopman, who held the post for just one year between 2011 and 2012. Before Coopman, Mitchell Waller served as chief between 2009 and 2011, according to city records.

The city has also seen rapid turnover in city managers, with six different people in that position over the last decade.

Baker is the third high-level employee to leave the city in recent years; former city clerk Robin Roberts quit in January 2015 after filing a harassment and intimidation lawsuit against the city councilwoman Margie Rice, eventually receiving a $15o,000 settlement. Former human resources and finance director Michael Solorza was fired last year after a major budget miscalculation.

It’s unclear why Baker decided to retire. When a reporter requested any record of government tort claims or threat of litigation made against the city by Baker, the city denied the request, stating that they had identified a document but it is exempt from disclosure because of a potential litigation threat.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org  or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.