Nov 30, 2012 6:43 PM by Caroline Lowe, KSBY News

Veteran Santa Maria police officer retires

One of Santa Maria's highest-profile police officers retired on Friday after more than thirty years in law enforcement, twenty-two on the Santa Maria force.

Lieutenant Rico Flores said goodbye to his fellow officers, preparing for the next chapter in his professional life.

Flores spent several years as the department's public information officer, supervised the traffic unit, worked as a gang detective and as a hostage negotiator.

This past year was one of the most challenging Flores experienced at the SMPD. It included several officer-involved shootings,a standoff with a barricaded suspect, and the sudden resignation of former Chief Danny Macagni last August.

As he made his rounds for one last time Friday at the SMPD, Flores said he had no regrets and loved serving the Santa Maria community.

He had some advice for the younger officers he leaves behind.

"We have our peaks and valleys in our careers. Sometimes, when it feels bad, it will get better. You just keep moving forward and remember we are dealing with people, we are dealing with nothing but peoples' issues. Always have empathy. Empathy is the most important thing , and integrity," said Flores.

Commander Kendall Greene was one of Flores' closest friend on the department.He said it was tough to see him go.

"You can replace a position, you can't replace the man. A part of you goes. For me, it is almost like losing a family member. You know,you don't get that back," said Commander Greene as he visited with Flores Friday morning before he left the SMPD for the last time.

Flores said he looks forward to a new career working part-time as a background investigator for the federal government.

"I am going to hit the ground running. I want my next chapter to be positive. I am going to be positive. I am going to take what I have learned, what I gathered along my roads of law enforcement, my career, and I am going to make it work for me," said Flores.

He also said, "This is about the time of your life where you say ,ok, I have given enough and I don't have any more to give and, if I do, I wanted to give it to another chapter in my life."



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