Ann Arbor Police Chief Daniel Oates resigned on Tuesday for a position as chief of a larger police department in Aurora, Co.

Oates is also the city’s interim fire chief, and his resignation will leave Ann Arbor’s two most high-profile public safety positions open.

Oates said his four years heading the Ann Arbor Police Department provided him with invaluable learning experience, but that he was ready for the challenge of a larger department in a larger community.

“This made sense to me and my wife in the development of my career, to take the next natural step,” he said.

Aurora is both more populous and covers a more expansive area than Ann Arbor. About 303,000 people live in the 147 square miles of Aurora, compared with about 114,000 people in the 26 square miles of Ann Arbor.

Aurora is the third-largest city in Colorado. Oates said that, with its recent surge in growth, in 10 to 15 years it will be the largest city in the state.

Oates will not be able to resume his new post until after Thanksgiving. In his contract with Ann Arbor, he is obligated to give 45 days notice before leaving.

City Manager Roger Fraser said Oates will be held to his contract. Fraser, who is also in charge of the search process for a new police chief and fire chief, said it has not been determined whether the search will be internal or nationwide.

Since finding a permanent replacement is a lengthy process, Fraser said the city will rely on deputy and assistant chiefs for both the fire and police departments for some time.

Fraser said that because it is so early, he cannot confirm what characteristics the city is looking for in a new police chief or whether officials already have their sights on any candidates.

Before coming to Ann Arbor, Oates served for 21 years in the New York Police Department. At the end of his NYPD career, Oates supervised 3,000 patrol officers and 700 civilians in his position as executive officer and second-in-command of the Patrol Borough Brooklyn South. Oates also served between 1997 and 2001 as commander of NYPD’s intelligence division, where he dealt with terrorism and homeland security.

Oates’s colleagues say they believe his shoes will be difficult to fill. In his four years as police chief, Oates has been credited with adjusting to a financial downsizing of the department and opening the channels of communication with Ann Arbor residents.

Lt. Michael Logghe said he believes this was Oates’s greatest accomplishment and commended Oates for leaving a rich legacy of inspiring community involvement.

“He was very savvy about what the community could do for the police department and allocating how different segments could help in different ways,” he said.

Deputy Chief Greg O’Dell also expressed discontent with the announcement of his boss’s departure.

“He is a very talented police chief – it didn’t surprise me he went to a larger department, since he has been recruited several times,” O’Dell said.

O’Dell said police chiefs have a high turnover rate because many want to move to larger police forces.

He added that in his 26 years in the police force – 17 in the AAPD – he has worked with nine police chiefs.

O’Dell said Oates would be missed, but that his departure would not disrupt the AAPD’s operations.

“We have a very stable office. There going to be some changes with a new person. But on a day-to-day basis, there is nothing to worry about. Everything will remain on track,” he said.

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