Antioch's police chief will retire before the end of the year — but he's not going anywhere.
Jim Hyde, who has headed the city's police department since June 2006, said he plans to retire Dec. 1 but will remain police chief and return in February on a contract that runs through the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The city's dire fiscal straits motivated the decision on a couple of levels, he said. As a contract employee, Hyde, 51, will not receive benefits through the city. He also will be eligible to receive public employee retirement but can work only 960 hours in a fiscal year.
"I know the financial situation the city's in," he said, adding that he has taken a 24 percent salary cut this year between pay cuts, unpaid furloughs and other concessions made to help bridge Antioch's budget shortfall.
"As a chief, when I'm making what a top-step sergeant makes, we need to figure out a way for this to work for everyone," he said.
Antioch has encouraged its top staff to pursue this "retire to rehire" program. Three other employees already have taken that option. City Manager Jim Jakel said it wasn't yet clear how much the city would save through Hyde's retirement but that it would prevent the layoffs of a sworn officer and a community service officer.
"It's an admirable step on his part, and he's done a great job for us," Mayor Jim Davis said.
Pittsburg police Chief Aaron Baker did the same thing. He retired in December and has been working part time on a contract since January.
Hyde has been popular for his efforts to target neighborhood disturbances and address youth problems, though crime was up 7 percent in the first half of 2009 over the same period last year.
"We are so lucky," said Iris Archuleta, who co-chairs the Youth Intervention Network with Hyde. "If he had said he was retiring and leaving, then I would have probably been hysterical."
Hyde's tenure has not been without controversy. His department has been named in a federal civil rights class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that claims discrimination against African-American residents on federal housing assistance.
The Community Action Team of the police department, which Hyde formed to tackle neighborhood crime, is at the core of that lawsuit and two others filed by residents.
"I think the greatest criticism (of Hyde) is the criticism that always accompanies change," Jakel said. "Whenever you do things differently, whenever the status quo is challenged, there will be detractors."
Jakel and Davis said there were a number of talented officers within the department who could be chosen as the next chief.
Reach Hilary Costa at 925-779-7166.