Coronado police Chief Lou Scanlon to retire

Scanlon has been in law enforcement for 40 years

CORONADO, Calif. - After nearly 40 years in law enforcement, current Coronado Police Department Chief Lou Scanlon is retiring.

After a stint in the U.S. Navy, Scanlon joined the San Diego Police Department in 1974. Four years later, he was involved in the aftermath of what was the first major air disaster in the country -- the 1978 PSA jet crash in North Park.

A year later, now with the SDPD's SWAT unit, Scanlon was called to the first school shooting in the country when 16-year-old Brenda Spencer opened fire at a San Diego elementary school, killing two adults and wounding nine others.

"She was across the street from the school and what stunned everyone then was just how young she was," Scanlon recalled during an interview in his office.  

He was also an eyewitness to the first mass shooting when a crazed gunman opened fire at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro in 1984.  

"In law enforcement, unfortunately, you meet some of the worst mankind has to offer, but you also meet some of the best," Scanlon told 10News.

Scanlon eventually left San Diego to become Coronado's chief in 2007, where he said people in Coronado, though far removed from the devastating wildfires, opened their hearts to help those who lost everything.

As he prepares to leave, he said he is proud of the fact that Coronado has the lowest crime rate of all the 18 cities San Diego County.

For Scanlon, one of the biggest adjustments coming over from San Diego was the size of the department.  

"We don't have a homicide unit or juvenile crime unit. Our officers here handle everything and they are quite good at it," Scanlon said.

Scanlon credits former San Diego police Chief and former county Sheriff Bill Kolender for his approach to law enforcement.  

"He introduced a more humanistic approach to police work; I think he changed the model nationwide," said Scanlon.

Scanlon is set to retire in April.

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