COMMANDER JAMES L. KENNEDY
ID 1506 BADGE 3, 301 & 413
SDPD 05/01/1958 - 08/22/1963 & 08/24/1964 - 07/21/1991
01/21/1937 - 03/21/2015
Cmdr. Jim Kennedy of City Police Is Retiring After 33 Years on the Force

July 18, 1991|MARK PLATTE | L.A. TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Jim Kennedy was 18, a California Highway patrolman wrote him a ticket.  Kennedy watched closely as the officer approached the car.  He was professional.  He appeared to be in top physical shape.  He was polite.  Left holding his citation, Kennedy wasn't shaken or disturbed as much as he was ecstatic.  He knew he had found a career.  One problem: the CHP didn't pay enough money, so, when he was 21, Kennedy applied to the San Diego Police Department.

On Wednesday, after 33 years, Cmdr. Kennedy announced he was retiring.  "A friend of mine told me that, when it's time to go, you'll know," Kennedy, 54, said.  "It's time to go."

During his years with the department, Kennedy has held virtually every position: commander of special operations, of internal affairs, of inspection services and of field operations.  He was the captain in charge of personnel, traffic and various patrols.

He managed a 1975 study that had impact nationwide.  It showed that patrol cars manned by one officer instead of two were just as efficient in fighting crime, and other departments throughout the country adopted his recommendations.

As lieutenant, he was placed in charge of burglary, patrol and the communications and business divisions of the department.  He also worked as an aide to the chief of police.  He was a sergeant for 2 1/2 years and, before that, worked as a traffic officer.

When Assistant Chief Norm Stamper took six months to complete an audit of the department last year, Kennedy filled in.  When Deputy Chief Manny Guaderrama decided to retire last month, Kennedy stepped in as acting deputy chief in charge of field operations.
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"We're going to miss him," Stamper said.  "He is a respected police professional and has an outstanding reputation throughout the state.  He's got a varied background with rich experiences.  He is a model of maturity and wisdom, a real professional."

Kennedy will not be replaced as part of the department's plan to reduce the number of top administrators from 13 to eight.  Police Chief Bob Burgreen had planned to offer Kennedy and others early retirement benefits, but City Manager Jack McGrory rejected the plan last month.

In an interview Wednesday, Kennedy said he would have enjoyed greater benefits by waiting to leave the department next July.  But he has been hampered by a severe accident he suffered in 1960, when a drunken driver hit him while he was writing a traffic ticket. Kennedy was knocked 47 feet, he said, missed about three years of work and has never fully recovered.

"I'm still hurting from those injuries and have iron and screws in my right hip," he said.

From 33 years of police work, Kennedy plucked from his memory his finest moment: the 1988 Super Bowl between the Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

"I was in charge of 300 officers, and we planned three years for that thing," he said.  "Super Bowl XXII was the largest event the San Diego Police Department ever handled.  And it went off without a hitch."
Appointed 5-1-1958
Disability retirement 8-22-1963, Badge 413
Returned 8-24-1964, Badge 301
Promoted to Sergeant 12/17/1965 
Promoted to Lieutenant 07/26/68
Promoted to Captain 04/02/1971, Badge 3