PUEBLO, Colo. - After 6 1/2 years of being Pueblo's police chief, Luis Velez is finishing up his last day with the Pueblo Police Department.
"After almost 40 years in the business, it's time. It's just simply time. But I will miss everybody," Velez said.
A celebration was held for Velez this morning, in which he was surrounded by Pueblo community leaders, coworkers, family and friends.
The Pueblo County sheriff, district attorney, city manager and City Council president recognized him for his hard work in strengthening the department.
"The focus is, 'How can we make this a safer, better-quality community?' and Luis Velez has been behind that from the get-go," said Pueblo County District Attorney Jeff Chostner.
Starting on Friday, Deputy Chief Troy Davenport will serve as the acting chief of police.
City Manager Sam Azad is taking applications from within the department until the end of the month.
"If I felt that we had not-qualified candidates, or I felt that we had a pool of weak candidates, I would definitely have gone and searched nationally," Azad said.
Azad says one of the biggest qualities he's looking for is a connection to the community
"Their connection to the community and being accepted to the community and promote that," Azad said.
He will announce his choice for the next chief on Aug. 28.
Although Velez is leaving the department, he says he will still be a police advocate.
"I may not be in the arena, but I will be your biggest cheerleader," Velez said.