Oceanside Police Chief Says He’ll Retire

Times Staff Writer

Police Chief Laurence Marshall, who came under fire from the department’s rank-and-file officers during contract negotiations last summer, said Wednesday that he will retire March 29.

Marshall, 54, chief for five years, said run-ins with the Oceanside Police Officers Assn. had nothing to do with his decision.

“It was the right time to retire,” Marshall said, noting that as a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, his benefits have reached the maximum level possible.

“I think he will be sorely missed by the city,” City Manager Suzanne Foucault said. “I do not want to see him leave, but I can certainly understand his desire to go on to new things.”


Foucault said she asked Marshall to stay on for an additional year, but the chief declined, agreeing instead to remain in his post until the end of March so a replacement can be recruited.

Councilman Walter Gilbert said he felt that Marshall’s departure had little to do with struggles with the police union.

“I suppose it bugged him some, but I’ve always said you’ll never win a popularity contest when you’re the ranking man in the Police Department,” said Gilbert, a former police detective in Michigan.

In recent weeks, some City Hall officials had speculated privately that Marshall’s job might be on the line with the election of two new council members on Nov. 4.


But Marshall said Wednesday that the election had no bearing on his decision, stressing that he was on good terms with the three incumbents as well as council newcomers Lucy Chavez and Ben Ramsey.

Marshall also said any bad blood with the police union was largely a thing of the past.

In August, the union voted overwhelmingly to register a no-confidence vote against the chief after the officers engaged in a drawn-out struggle over a new contract. At the time, union leaders said dissatisfaction with Marshall was prompted in part because of his efforts to reorganize the department. In addition, officers were angered by the chief’s apparent unwillingness to push city leaders to increase the department’s manpower.

A police union spokesman could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Marshall, however, said that most of the problems cited by the group had been rectified.


“This is what we’re all working for--a life of retirement,” the chief said, adding that he feels some remorse because he’s leaving at a time when Oceanside “is moving rapidly in new directions.”

Foucault cited Marshall’s community relations program as one of his outstanding accomplishments. In addition, she praised him for upgrading the department’s data management program.

During his tenure, she said, the city’s crime rate dropped steadily. In the last four years, Oceanside’s rate of reported crime was lower than the county average, she said.

Before coming to Oceanside, Marshall served as under sheriff of Santa Barbara County.


Marshall said he plans to spend more time oil painting, a lifelong hobby, and playing tennis. He and his wife, Naomi, will remain in Oceanside.