After ‘protecting paradise’ for 24 years, Key West’s police chief announces retirement

Key West Police Chief Donie Lee announced his retirement Friday after 24 years with the department.

Lee, whose last day will be Dec. 3, said he has mixed emotions about leaving the job.

“After 24 years I can’t be but somewhat saddened and reluctant to leave it,” Lee said in a statement released Friday. “But I also leave with the firsthand knowledge and pride that the Key West Police Department is in good hands.”

Lee, a fifth-generation Key West native who has a criminal justice degree from the University of Florida, started with the department in 1994. He rose through the ranks and was was appointed police chief on April 1, 2008.

Lee said, “The men and women both sworn and civilian of the Key West Police Department are second to none. On a daily basis, I witness the remarkable professionalism and commitment to service you display. It has been a privilege to serve alongside of you and you are what I will miss most. May God continue to keep you safe and may you continue to make us proud.”

Lee didn’t offer up any immediate post-retirement plans.

“This is a terrific loss for the city,” Bryan Green, of Key West, ” target=”_self”>posted on Facebook. “I just hope we are not losing you from Key West.”

Another local, John Teets posted, “I salute his service and leadership in improving our department through the years: reducing crime, increasing professionalism…protecting paradise.”