Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus is retiring on Oct. 1 after nearly 30 years with the department, he said Thursday.
In an email announcement to the department, he wrote, "Be assured, the decision to do so is mine alone."
Loftus reiterated that point in an emotional news conference, saying that it's his time to retire and that he is ready to be with his family.
"I got a mother still alive, I got a brother and sister, they live someplace else. I've been here 29 years, I've been a lousy son, I've been a lousy brother. I don't see them, I don't see their children as much as I should," said Loftus, 56, who was appointed director in 2010.
He said that "all the great things in my life that have happened to me" since he left Pennsylvania have happened in the police department, including meeting his wife, who is a retired Miami-Dade Police officer. He said he has no regrets.
Loftus said he also wants to spend his time on veterans affairs projects and the Wounded Warrior Project.
He insisted Tuesday's re-election of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has nothing to do with his decision.
“Let’s be real clear about this. My decision to leave here is my decision. I’m not being ousted, or encouraged to leave, or discouraged from staying – it is my time," he said.
Some people may doubt politics is not involved in Loftus' departure. Police union president John Rivera is one of them.
"You know, an old man who has since passed away told me early on in my career there is no such thing as coincidence in politics. I think today is a textbook example of that," said Rivera, who heads the Dade County Police Benevolent Association.
Gimenez said he is saddened that Loftus is retiring and called his departure "a great loss."
"Over the past year, I’ve developed a close relationship with him. He is one of the finest directors we’ve ever had," Gimenez said in a statement. "We’re losing a dedicated public servant and a consummate professional who has led this vital department with integrity. He will be very difficult to replace; however, I respect and appreciate his desire to be more active in the lives of his loved ones."
Before he became director, Loftus was the assistant director of investigative services. He has also served as a supervisor in uniform patrol, the professional compliance bureau and the criminal conspiracy unit, and as a captain of the homicide bureau.
In 1999, he was promoted to major of the homicide bureau and later served as chief of the criminal investigations division.
Asked if he enjoyed being the police director, Loftus responded, "I get enjoyment out of the great things that our people do. I don't get enjoyment out of sending people – because it’s my job, I am the director of the police department for the time being – to send people into harm’s way ... and I take that responsibility very seriously."
Loftus elaborated on the family considerations that are moving him toward retirement in his news conference, which was held with reporters huddled into a small press room.
"It's one thing when you're not there physically, but when you're at a soccer game or at a soccer practice, and your kid comes off the field and says 'Hey did you see what I did out there,' and the answer is consistently no because you're on the telephone, that's not a good answer, and that's not acceptable," Loftus said.
Loftus' full email announcement:
"To My MDPD Family ~
Effective October 1, 2012, I will be closing my 29 years of service to the Miami-Dade Police Department. Be assured, the decision to do so is mine alone.
During the past couple of years, I’ve been asked to describe my duties as Director. Simply stated, my job has been to worry. I think I’ve done my part, while you; the men and women of this Department, have in large measure, done the rest of the work. Your courage, caring and commitment to doing what is right, no matter the cost, makes this Department what it is: tested but unbroken, vigilant in a time of great turmoil and uncertainty, unrelenting in the face of danger.
My greatest professional satisfaction has come from the members of this Department when you have referred to me as, 'one of your own,' or 'a cop’s cop.' That distinction means more to me than any rank achieved, and it gives me a sense of pride, and humility, that I will carry with me always!
You have shaped my life and the lives of my family for the past 29 years, and I thank you for that. I have no right to ask for more, but I will. Look out for each other, stand with each other, and never forget who you are…The thin line between good and evil!"