A deputy chief for the Riverside Police Department Friday was named interim head of the agency ahead of the retirement next month of Chief Sergio Diaz.

City Manager Al Zelinka appointed RPD Chief Deputy of Administration Larry Gonzalez to take the helm until a permanent replacement for Diaz is selected.

“Chief Diaz has demonstrated tremendous leadership of the police department during the past nine years,” Zelinka said. “Larry Gonzalez is the right person to continue that strong leadership while we take the time on the selection process for this very important position.”

Diaz will officially vacate his position on Sept. 15. He has served in the top spot since July 2010, after retiring from the Los Angeles Police Department, where he spent 33 years.

A farewell ceremony is scheduled for the afternoon of Sept. 10 at the Fox Performing Arts Center.

“As law enforcement professionals, we work in a challenging and ever-changing environment, but we also have great opportunities to impact the community in a positive way,” Diaz said. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to lead RPD during the past nine years, and I look forward to seeing the department continue to grow and evolve in a positive way.”

Diaz’s composite compensation, factoring in healthcare coverage and other benefits, is $306,151 a year, according to the California State Controller’s Office. He receives a pension from the city of Los Angeles totaling more than $10,500 a month, according to the Los Angeles Department of Fire & Police Pensions, and according to the controller’s database, his time with the city of Riverside will further bolster his retirement income, though the specific amount was not disclosed.

The proposed salary for his replacement has not been determined.

It was not immediately known whether Gonzalez intends to compete for the post, for which he is eligible. The 26-year law enforcement veteran has been one of Diaz’s two deputy chiefs since June 2017.

The city manager’s office said an open recruitment will be conducted, utilizing a firm under contract with the city to handle the process. Community groups will be invited to weigh in on prospects before a permanent chief is selected.

“A city’s police chief can have a tremendous effect on not just safety and security, but its overall quality of life,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “I’m glad to see that Riverside is taking the time to allow for community input and a thorough vetting of all candidates.”

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