After about a year on the job as the second-in-command for Opa-locka’s police department, Assistant Chief Louis Vega is stepping down.
Vega, 70, submitted his resignation letter and will officially leave the department May 16. Assistant City Manager David Chiverton described the departure as a “retirement.” Vega said that he actually plans to test the job market after he leaves the force, and said his decision was based on not feeling challenged by the job.
“I felt that at this time it would be best if I just left to go somewhere,” Vega said.
He denied that there was any disagreement or “rift” between him and Chief Jeffrey Key, who was appointed last March.
Vega, who has also worked for the Miami and New York police departments, said that he adjusted to the small size of the force. The city of about 16,000 residents is policed by about 60 officers.
“We worked basically as a team, but I’m used to being busier and working with larger departments,” Vega said.
The department has a history of turnover in leadership and liability claims due to poor practices, most notably a collision last April after an Opa-locka police officer pursued a driver heading the wrong way on Interstate 95.
It also had 11 murders in 2013, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime data, which led to only one arrest. Nationally, 62 percent of murders were solved by police in 2012, the most recent year for which complete data were available.
Despite this, Vega looks back on his time there positively.
“It was an honor for me to work there, and that department is heading in the right direction,” Vega said.
Vega served as an assistant police chief in Miami and most recently unsuccessfully applied to be chief of the Miami Beach Police Department in 2011.
The city has not appointed a replacement for Vega.