Costa Mesa police chief and captain put on administrative leave

Costa Mesa's city manager has placed the city's police chief and a police captain on administrative leave, it was reported today.

The change in command was announced in a terse e-mail sent to police officers by City Manager Allan Roeder, the Daily Pilot reported. Roeder could not be reached for comment by the newspaper.

The decision removes the chief, Chris Shawkey, and Capt. Ron Smith from day-to-day operations at the police force in Costa Mesa. The department's other captain, Les Gogerty, is now in charge of police operations, the city manager told officers.

The newspaper reported that Shawkey joined the department in 2007 and was recruited from the Phoenix Police Department, where he had been since 1981 and served as the department's airport bureau commander.

Some high-ranking city officials told the newspaper, without allowing their names to be used, that Shawkey had either been absent or away from the office a good deal of time of this year. But that possible issue was not addressed by the memo.

Smith has been with the department for about 30 years, and oversaw the investigation of a violent double-murder earlier this year.

"Police Department personnel, please be advised, as of this date Chief Shawkey and Captain Smith are on leave,'' Roeder's announcement stated. "As this involves potential personnel matters, I would respectfully as that you do not speculate nor discuss this matter out of respect for these two individuals and the professional integrity of the Costa Mesa Police Department.''

Gogerty, who has been with the department since 1985, will serve as interim commander, the Daily Pilot reported.