Danville City Commission accepted the resignation of Police Chief Jay Newell on Monday.
Newell, who served as chief of the department for four years, was granted voluntary reassignment to his previous position as a patrol officer. He cited personal health concerns as the primary reason for the decision.
Assistant Chief Tony Gray was named interim chief, a position he also held in 2007 prior to Newell's hiring.
Newell became chief in October 2007 after a nationwide search and had served as assistant chief previously before requesting a return to the patrol division. In 16 years with the department, he has had every rank in patrol and administration.
Although he said his health concerns were not chronic or necessarily life threatening, Newell said his quality of life has been affected.
"This has been a decision a long time in the making," Newell said. "This seemed like the appropriate point, prior to the budget process early next year.”
While city commissioners voted unanimously to accept Newell's request, several said they did so with regret.
"You hate to see him step down, and there were no performance issues," said Mayor Bernie Hunstad. "I think everyone recognizes he's done a great job. The good news is we don't lose any talent. Both Jay and Tony still remain with the department, and we are happy about that."
Hunstad said the effort to find the next chief will begin soon, but no decisions on the scope of the search have officially been made. He expects Gray to compete for the position.
Hunstad said he is confident Danville will be attractive to external candidates, citing the community overall and things like next year's vice-presidential debate.
Newell echoed Hunstad and others who said law enforcement will not be compromised during the transition.
"Chief Gray is an excellent choice," Newell said. "He has been assistant chief for six years, including his duties as an interim during 2007. I have every confidence Tony will continue to provide professional police service for Danville."
Newell will spend the next week helping with Gray's move to full-time chief before starting work as a patrol officer. Newell will have to take part in field training to better familiarize himself with some newer areas of town.
Newell hopes he can offer the knowledge he has gained in his administrative position and previous time at other levels with the department to other officers.
"We are an extremely young department, and I like to think my years of experience can benefit the patrol division," Newell said.
Gray said he had spoken with Newell about the decision and is prepared to step in and do the job. He said there would not be a huge difference in the short-term. Gray said he is interested in the job on a permanent basis.