Guadalupe has joined the short list of Central Coast communities seeking a permanent police chief for its department.

Police Chief George Mitchell

Police Chief George Mitchell

Police Chief George Mitchell announced at a recent board meeting that he would not renew his five-year contract when the term expires Jan. 28.

Santa Maria is also in the middle of a search for a permanent replacement for longtime, controversial Police Chief Danny Macagni, who retired in August after he was placed on leave.

Mitchell told Noozhawk that he would not retire, but will explore other career options after five years serving the Guadalupe community.

“I have some options that I’m exploring,” Mitchell said, noting some options would require him to remain somewhat local. “It’s been an extraordinary experience. I always like to let the people of Guadalupe know they have a good police department. They know their community. I had a great time.”

Mitchell said now seemed a good time to step aside, since the city will soon have a new management team.

Guadalupe is still searching for a new city administrator, and three new City Council members will be seated at the next meeting Dec. 11. The city has also been without a half-time fire chief since June — duties that Mitchell has taken on in the interim.

At the Dec. 11 meeting, interim City Administrator Tim Ness plans to present the council with options to fill the police chief seat permanently and in the interim.

Ness said the search could take several months, so the council could appoint an interim police chief from within or outside the department in the meantime.

He said the council might also consider posting a joint director of public safety position, to include both police and fire chief duties because of budget cuts.

“I should be able to get some direction from them at that time,” Ness said. “It is a critical position in the city.”

Mitchell said he was grateful for support of the community and the dozen officers in the department who have helped keep crime rates significantly below neighboring towns.

“There’s a lot of changes in town,” Mitchell said. “This may be an appropriate time for me to conclude my service. Every chief hopes at the conclusion of the term that I left the place better than I found it. I think we’re in a good position.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.