PITTSBURG -- The city is seeking a new top cop, now that longtime police Chief Aaron Baker is leaving the post.

"I'm retiring," Baker said Thursday.

The city has launched a recruitment effort to find his replacement, with an application deadline of Nov 19. The city is offering a salary range of $140,724 to $179,600, according to an online posting on the website of the California Police Chiefs Association.

Baker, 60, who joined the department in 1976 and was named chief in 1998, expects that a new chief will be in place by the end of the year or early 2013.

"That's the general timeline for it, but I've agreed to stick around as long as it takes to get the new person on board. It's been a very fulfilling job for me. It's been more than a job, it's been a great career," Baker said.

Baker officially retired in 2008, but under provisions of the California State Public Employees Retirement System, he has continued to work slightly less than half time, which has translated into a base salary of $81,771 in 2011, while also drawing a retirement pension.

"It was always meant to be temporary," he said.

A state law aimed at public pensions contributed to Baker's decision to retire, said Mayor Ben Johnson.

One of the provisions of the law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, sets limits on post-retirement employment that reduces retirement benefits once that threshold is reached.

Baker's tenure as chief has coincided with a drop in the city's reported crime rate.


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"We have a chief of police who is very effective. If it was my choice, I would keep him here," Johnson said.

Johnson said the choice of hiring the police chief rests with City Manager Joe Sbranti.

"We'll look at everything and give him our input," Johnson said.

Baker plans to do some traveling in his retirement years, but don't look for him on a cruise ship.

"I'll do what retired people do, but I'm not a great shuffleboard player," he said.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her at Twitter.com/eastcounty_girl.