Sharon Papa, who has served in law enforcement for 40 years, announced her retirement from the position of chief of the Hermosa Beach Police Department, effective Oct. 1.

Papa, first appointed to the Hermosa Beach position in September 2013, said she has to “move on to life’s next adventure.” Her diagnosis of ocular melanoma last year has forced her, she said in a statement, to reassess her ability to continue to serve as leader of the city’s police force. Papa went on medical leave in September of 2018.

“It is difficult to leave this job and this department because I have enjoyed both so much,” said Papa. “Thank you to the City Council, City manager, City staff and, most of all, my colleagues in the Police Department who have stood by me throughout this process. I want to give a special thanks to Acting Chief Milton McKinnon who has done such an outstanding job of leading the Police Department during my medical leave.”

Papa was Hermosa Beach’s first female police chief and, while she never set out to be a pioneer, she was also the first female police chief in Los Angeles County when she was named chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department in January 1990.

After it merged with the Los Angeles Police Department in 1997, she rose through the ranks to the position of assistant chief, making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the LAPD at that time.

During her tenure in Hermosa Beach, Papa said the police department’s sworn and civilian employees worked together to increase outreach and partnership with the community through several initiatives, including the Community Police Advisory Board, creation of a Community Police Academy and Coffee with a Cop events.

Papa said the police department also ensured the recruitment and hiring of top-quality staff members and made strides in reducing crime and disorder, especially in downtown Hermosa Beach. In addition, she said the police department has increased its training for its officers, giving them greater knowledge of best practices.

Hermosa Beach Mayor Stacey Armato said in a statement Papa was instrumental in community relations and in enhancing community safety.

"She led the way in implementing crime prevention through environmental design in downtown Hermosa Beach with better lighting and other improvements that have served as a deterrent to crime,” said Armato. “We thank her for her service and thank Acting Chief Milton McKinnon for his leadership over the past year.”

The city will be launching a search for Papa’s replacement.

For more information, contact Human Resources Manager Vanessa Godinez at vgodinez@hermosabch.org.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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