METHUEN — Police Chief Joseph Solomon is retiring, he said in a letter to Mayor Neil Perry on Friday.
"I am writing to inform you of my intent to retire from the Methuen Police Department as I turn 60 this month," he wrote in the letter, which he made available to The Eagle-Tribune.
"As a life-long resident of Methuen, I believe this decision is made in the best interest of our community, the men and women of the Methuen Police Department, and perhaps most importantly, the members of my family," he said. "While I remain confident in my ability to defend my personal and professional performance in any forum, the ceaseless baseless attacks on my integrity, together with the constant political interference in the management of the department, have created a negative environment that is detrimental to the city, the dedicated members of the department, and to my family and friends."
Mayor Neil Perry refused to comment on the letter.
City Councilors had mixed reactions to the news.
City Council Chairman Steve Saba said, "We look forward to continuing our efforts to reshape the Methuen Police Department."
Councilor D.J. Beauregard said, "It looks like Chief Solomon's reign of corruption is finally coming to an end, but there are some immediate questions that need to be answered. We still don't know how much we owe him. We've been trying to figure out what the buyout number is for about a year now."
Councilor Eunice Zeigler said that the city needs to have a frank discussion with Solomon before he leaves office about the recent report from the state Inspector General that found Solomon and Capt. Greg Gallant acted in their own interests rather than in the interests of taxpayers during contract negotiations.
"Methuen residents and taxpayers deserve an open and transparent process," she said. "This is truly the only way we can move forward."
She added that the city also needs to discuss the audit of the Police Department, which is due to be released this week.
Perry told councilors last week that the audit supported many of the findings of the Inspector General's report.
One councilor lashed out at Perry for withholding important information from the councilors and the public.
"Yet again the mayor was in possession of critical information that wasn't promptly shared with the councilors," said Councilor Jessica Finocchiaro. She noted that an "extensive interview process should ensure that the next police chief is equipped to handle the looming task of managing the department's unique difficulties to an appropriate conclusion."
Staff writer Jill Harmacinski contributed to this report.