Manhattan Beach Police Chief Derrick Abell will retire later this month, ending a more than three-decade career in law enforcement, the city announced Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Abell has helmed the city’s Police Department since 2018 and has spent nearly all of his 33-year career with Manhattan Beach. His last day is set for Dec. 18 — though he may stay longer than that if needed.

The city will now begin searching for a new chief. After Dec. 18, Abell will continue leading the department on an interim basis until Manhattan Beach names his successor, the city said in its announcement.

“It has been an honor and privilege to lead the Manhattan Beach Police Department and serve the residents of Manhattan Beach,” Abell said in a statement. “There is no greater calling than serving others before self, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve so many throughout my career; I look forward to paying it forward in the next chapter of my life.”

During his tenure, the city’s announcement said, Abell fostered better community engagement, implemented crime-reducing strategies, embraced modern technologies and practices, prioritized police officer morale and well-being, and promoted career development and training.

He began his law enforcement career in 1988 with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, but moved over to Manhattan Beach in 1991, working initially as a patrol officer. Abell held various roles during his rise through the ranks, including narcotics detective, SWAT team commander, police sergeant and administration division captain. He was named “Officer of the Year” in 1999.

Abell became a captain in 2008.

Abell focused his efforts on unbiased policing and transparency, the city said. Also under his leadership, MBPD adopted more de-escalation strategies and a collaborative approach to addressing citywide issues, such as homelessness, school safety and implicit bias.

Abell grew up in Inglewood and received a bachelor’s degree in speech communications and public relations from Montana State University. He also has a master’s degree in emergency services management from Trident International University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

“Chief Abell has spent his career in public safety in Manhattan Beach as a model of professionalism and dedication,” Mayor Hildy Stern said. “His compassionate approach to understanding our community, the collaborative way he extends himself to developing partnerships, and his support of citywide initiatives has certainly strengthened the Manhattan Beach Police Department.”

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