San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender, who briefly walked away from public service in 1988 after 13 years as San Diego police chief, closes out his 50-plus years in law enforcement today, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Undersheriff Bill Gore, a longtime family friend, is being sworn in today to succeed him. Almost everywhere Kolender has gone since he announced his retirement in April, people have stopped to shake his hand and tell him about his lasting impact across the community.
Kolender, 74, a former San Diego patrolman who at 40 became the youngest chief in department history, was sent by voters to the sheriff’s seat in 1994 to remake a department badly shaken by his one-term predecessor. He was re-elected without serious competition three times. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, himself a former police chief who worked under Kolender, said one of his best impressions of his one-time boss was made decades ago, when the city’s school board recruited Kolender to help develop a desegregation plan for the district. “That was a real tribute to him personally and the atmosphere he had created at the Police Department,” Sanders said. “He has been huge in terms of law enforcement, not just here but around the country.”