Embattled Torrance Police Chief Mark Matsuda announces retirement

Torrance Police Chief Mark Matsuda has announced his retirement. Earlier this year, Matsuda was suspended for alleged anti-gay comments. Photo: Torrance Police Department.

TORRANCE — Torrance’s embattled police chief announced his retirement Wednesday, a week after one of his own lieutenants sued him and less than four months after he was suspended from the department after allegations he made hostile comments about women, blacks, gays and Muslims.

In a prepared statement, Matsuda, 53, announced he would end his 30-year career as a Torrance police officer in August, but an exact date wasn’t mentioned. Matsuda, who was appointed the city’s 10th chief in April 2014, is the first Asian-American to lead the 230-officer department.

“For 30 years, it has been my honor to protect and serve the citizens of Torrance as a proud member of the Torrance Police Department,” Matsuda said in the statement. “During my career, I have always aimed to serve the diverse community of people who live, work, and play in the City of Torrance with integrity and dedication to the highest standards of performance, and to the best of my abilities.”

RELATED: Torrance Police Chief Mark Matsuda suspended for alleged anti-gay comments

The city has not yet said who will be Matsuda’s replacement.

CITY MANAGER REACTION

In the statement, City Manager Leroy Jackson, who will appoint the next police chief, praised Matsuda for advancing the police department in “many ways with his integrity, leadership, and expertise in law enforcement.”

“The experience he gained from the many roles he served in the department has allowed him to achieve significant success throughout his career,” Jackson said. “Chief Matsuda has demonstrated a strong commitment to public service, law enforcement, and command of the department by serving not only the Torrance community, but the greater South Bay region.”

EMBROILED IN CONTROVERSY

But this year, Matsuda has been embroiled in controversy. After the personnel complaint was filed against him by members of the department, the Daily Breeze reported that it received anonymous emails and letters accusing Matsuda of “not promoting the interests of racial and ethnic equality throughout his department,” and making “constant remarks against women, homosexuals and African-American and Muslim communities.”

Also, the newspaper reported last week that Torrance police Lt. Hector Bermudez filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city and Matsuda, accusing him of obstructing him from investigating potential criminal misconduct among his officers. Bermudez alleged Matsuda stopped him from investigating officers’ possible unlawful use of computer databases that contain criminal histories. Matsuda, he claimed, retaliated against him by issuing him a negative performance evaluation and bypassing him for promotion.

The city had no comment, the Daily Breeze reported.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBT community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBT students.