February 18, 2014 Updated: February 18, 2014 at 5:36 pm
BOULDER — Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, who took over the department in the aftermath of the 1996 JonBenet Ramsey slaying, said Tuesday he will retire on April 1.
Beckner spent 36 years with the department, including 16 years as chief. His tenure also included investigations into sexual assault allegations against University of Colorado football players.
City Manager Jane Brautigam said she would meet with city officials to start the search for a new chief.
Brautigam said Beckner had served honorably and with integrity. She praised his work during devastating wildfires and floods.
Beckner started with the department as a patrol officer in 1978 and had worked his way up to the rank of commander when he was appointed chief in 1998. He was the head of the patrol division at the time but had also been commander of the SWAT team.
His predecessor as chief, Tom Koby, resigned under pressure for making no arrests in the JonBenet case and for his handling of a 1997 riot at the university.
It was the second time Beckner had stepped into a leadership role amid the fallout of the JonBenet case. Koby put him in charge of the investigation in October 1997, replacing Cmdr. John Eller. Koby acknowledged there had been problems in the investigation.
The 6-year-old girl was found bludgeoned and strangled in her family's Boulder home in December 1996. Her slaying remains unsolved.
Lurid details of the crime and video of the girl wearing makeup and suggestive costumes in child beauty pageants attracted intense public attention.
In 2004, Beckner had to defend his department against allegations of favoritism to CU athletes amid the sexual assault investigations. He insisted athletes got no special treatment.
The department opened a new communications center, training center and firearms range during Beckner's term. The department also created a major crimes unit and helped bring a Colorado Bureau of Investigation DNA lab to Boulder.