La Verne police chief retires for health

Samira Felix
News Editor 

La Verne Police Department Chief Colleen Flores announced her retirement on Feb. 3 due to complications following a brain aneurysm. Flores took a leave of absence in February 2023 with hopes of returning to full-time duty, but ultimately decided that retiring was the safest option for her health. 

“I was not ready to retire,” Flores said. “I absolutely love working at the La Verne Police Department.”

Capt. Sam Gonzalez is filling in as interim chief until a new police chief is appointed by city officials. 

Flores, the first woman to helm the La Verne PD, served as a lieutenant at the Arcadia Police Department for 22 years before joining the La Verne department in 2018 as the department’s first female captain. In 2022 she became the department’s first female police chief. 

“She came from a good place,” Gonzalez said. “She always looked out for the well-being of the community, not that everyone else didn’t; it’s just that was the charisma that she had and what she brought forth.” 

La Verne Mayor Tim Hepburn said Flores arrived at the department with a wealth of knowledge from Arcadia and has done an amazing job at bringing everyone together.

“She was just a wonderful person and in the short tenure she was there gained a lot of respect and a lot of love from the people that she worked with,” Hepburn said. “I think that’s really a testament to her leadership and also a testament to her succession planning. Things have been running very well because she put into place the building blocks to make sure that if anything happened to anyone that someone could step in and do their job because they’ve been trained well.” 

In February 2023 Flores woke up with double vision. Her doctor urged her to go to the hospital where doctors discovered an aneurysm behind her right eye. She underwent a coiling procedure, but it was not successful because her aneurysm was an irregular shape, she said. A few months later she underwent another brain surgery where a stent was inserted.

Flores said she worked with her neurology team during her recovery to make sure she could return to work and be safe since one of the contributing factors to aneurysms is high blood pressure. The aneurysm was a work-related injury due to the stress of the job, she said.

“I never felt stressed,” Flores said. “There are definitely challenges but because I love my job so much, I never looked at it like that. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders but the day-to-day stress is just how we function, especially type A people.”

Flores was prepared to return to her job and work until August of this year,  because that is when her full-service retirement actually is, but a conversation with her neurology team a few weeks ago changed her plans. 

“This is a big transition that was completely unexpected,” Flores said. “We just did department photos last month, and I bought all new uniforms. I bought all new everything because I wanted to come back squeaking like a rookie out of the academy all excited to return. It was interesting how quickly it changed.”

Hepburn said City Council will have meetings to discuss the succession planning for retirement for Flores. 

Flores will be working with the LVPD behind the scenes in whatever is necessary to move forward until she officially retires. 

“La Verne is something special: the community, the council, the police department, all the city staff,” Flores said. “It’s something special and I’m forever grateful and honored that I got to be a part of the team.”

Samira Felix can be reached at samira.felix@laverne.edu.

Samira Felix, a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism, is news editor for the Campus Times. She previously served as a staff writer.

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