Northwestern Division Capt. Kathy Healey will retire along with as many as 100 officers in the San Diego Police Department, due to city-imposed contract changes that affect retirement benefits.
Healey's last day is May 31, ending a 33-year career in law enforcement and nearly two years as the Northwestern Division's captain for Carmel Valley.
The decision to leave was a difficult one, Healey said: "It's like leaving a family."
Community Relations Officer Gaylon Sells said the mass exodus is going to be "ugly" and create a challenging time for the city. Luckily, besides Healey's departure, Northwestern will not be losing a lot of staff as the station has many young officers, Sells said.
Healey's replacement won't be named until August and Lt. Anastasia Smith will oversee the division in the interim.
"I have absolute confidence in her, that she will be able to step in and take care of business," Healey said of Smith.
Becoming a captain was by far the biggest accomplishment of her career, she said.
"When I came on there were no female captains," Healey said. "I came on in an era when women weren't exactly welcome and I look back at it and say 'wow.'"
Healey's family is law enforcement heavy--her husband is a retired police officer and her only son, Sonny, is also an officer at the Mid City Division.
She spent last Thursday riding along with her son for one last time.
Healey has been with the police department since 1977. She worked as an investigative detective for 15 years, a significant amount of that time spent in sex crimes and juvenile crimes.
"It's always difficult to deal with those kinds of crimes," Healey told the Carmel Valley Leader in 2007. "It's the way you look at it. You have to look at it from the aspect of taking kids out of bad situations. If you look at it the other way it can be very stressful."
Looking back, she said she has "tremendous satisfaction" at the people she was able to put away for committing unspeakable crimes.
As a sergeant, Healey spent two years in the equal opportunity office, where her duties consisted of internal sexual harassment investigations and teaching classes in diversity.
When she became a lieutenant, she worked at the Western Division doing operational support and at the Family Justice Center working with victims of elder abuse and domestic violence.
After her rank was upped to captain, she spent two years at the Regional Police Academy before being assigned to Carmel Valley.
Healey has enjoyed her time in Carmel Valley with a staff she called incredible and dedicated. She has also enjoyed working with the community.
"The community is so positive and supportive," said Healey, recalling her first Carmel Valley Community Planning Board meeting were so was welcomed and effusively thanked.