South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Ortiz Retires | On Administrative Leave Until March

Chief Ortiz will remain on paid administrative leave until his retirement

FILE PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Chief Joe Ortiz of the South Pasadena Police Department, during a press conference at City Hall, announces the release of body cam footage of the encounter with Vanessa Marquez, who was fatally shot by police on August 30, 2018

South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Ortiz “has announced his intention to retire effective March 1, 2021,” according to a city press release. Interim City Manager Sean Joyce has appointed Deputy Police Chief Brian Solinsky to serve as Interim Police Chief until a successor is named.

“To effectuate the transfer of command,” Chief Ortiz will remain on paid administrative leave until his retirement, the announcement stated. It offered no other details and did not include a statement from Ortiz himself.

Joyce thanked Ortiz for his 27-plus years in municipal law enforcement that includes about 1-1/2 years in South Pasadena, along with his service in Glendora and Sierra Madre. He’s also acknowledged by city leadership for his previous service in the US Air Force and Air National Guard.

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The announcement comes less than two days after a slew of South Pasadena citizens spoke up at a City Council meeting demanding it commence an investigation of the chief or his department in response to a series of controversies over the past few months over his officers’ handling of various incidents, especially those in connection with demonstrations by BLM supporters and opponents, as well as the chief’s ill-fated decision to permit a controversial group to hold a prayer vigil at city hall.

This week alone, nearly a dozen formal citizen complaints were filed.

Ortiz, appointed in April 2019, becomes the third South Pasadena police chief to leave the city in eight years. Over the past century, only one South Pasadena Police Chief has served less time in the job. South Pasadena police chiefs normally last about six and half years.

Over the past three months, at least seven other California Chiefs of Police have announced their retirements in cities including Santa Monica, Modesto, Mountain View, Galt, Bishop, Tiburon and Walnut Creek. Some, but not all, came amidst controversies involving protests or incidents with racial overtones.



Ben Tansey
Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.