Farewells abound for retiring Senior Lead Officer Joe Pelayo

| June 27, 2024 | 0 Comments

COMMUNITY ROOM was packed with farewell presents for Pelayo.

Senior Lead Officer (SLO) Joe Pelayo is retiring at the end of June after being part of the neighborhood for the last 17 years. His own community police station, the Olympic Division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), along with the Wilshire Rotary Club, celebrated his service to the city last month.

LAPD Olympic farewell

Olympic Community Police Station was abuzz with hugs, farewells and good wishes for Pelayo at his official retirement party held there on June 18.

OUTSIDE THE STATION SLO Joe Pelayo poses with Michael Soriano, longtime friend from the Larchmont Village neighborhood.

The station hosted a party with tacos, agua frescas and cake in a room filled with officers from many stations throughout the city, family members and community residents including Bob Reeves, president of Ridgewood Wilton Neighborhood Association, and Michael Soriano, from the Larchmont Village neighborhood.

Colleagues were gracious when they spoke about Pelayo. His former captain, Ed Sun, said, “He’s very even-keeled; nothing ever bugged him and he’s so easy-going.” LAPD Chaplain Francis Hicks commented, “He’s an instrument of love for the community who fosters friendship and understanding.”

Eric Mollinedo was in the same academy class and at the same station as Pelayo for years. Mollinedo remembers the first time he noticed Pelayo during their training. The commanding officer said, “Going to a rock concert? Your hair is too long.” They became friends, and Mollinedo introduced Pelayo to biking, which has since become an obsession.

INCOMING SLO Danny Chavez gives his mentor a retirement gift.

SLO Danny Chavez, who is taking over Pelayo’s patrol area, says, “I wouldn’t be an SLO if it wasn’t for you. Joe’s an excellent mentor and the big brother I never had. I’m really going to miss you.”

Pelayo, who at points teared up, told attendees, “Being in the LAPD has been an amazing journey. I’ve seen it all, good and bad. When I travel back east for the bike rides, the other officers always admire us. It’s been a great career and community. I will miss you. Thank you.” He said he still plans on coming around the neighborhood on occasion and stopping in at Peet’s on Larchmont.

The event was capped off with a flyover by the regular LAPD helicopter patrol. From the loudspeaker in the copter, officers congratulated Pelayo on his tenure and retirement.

Wilshire Rotary

Our local Rotarians earlier had honored Pelayo’s positive impacts in our neighborhoods at a luncheon at the Ebell of Los Angeles, 743 S. Lucerne Blvd., on June 5.

Wendy Clifford, a Rotarian and resident of Windsor Square, gave a touching toast about Pelayo, her SLO. She noted that he has been an LAPD officer for 29 years — not looking his age [59 years] at all, and she asked him, “Where is the fountain of youth? I need it.”

Clifford recounted seeing Pelayo recently at the Larchmont Village block party in April. He strolled through the crowd greeting residents, getting and giving hugs, and hearing words of farewell. Clifford thought, “Oh, my — he’s a rock star in the neighborhood!”

GUESTS at SLO Joe Pelayo’s table of honor are (seated, left to right) Larry Guzin, Windsor Square Association president; SLO Albert Vasquez; Sgt. Dianna Riddle; and SLO Harris Cho. Standing, left to right, are Jane Gilman, co-founder of the Larchmont Chronicle; Byron Zapata of St. James’s Episcopal School; SLO Joe Pelayo; and Wendy Clifford, Rotarian.

At the luncheon, Clifford spoke of president of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (LVNA), Charles D’Atri’s, “admiration for [Pelayo’s] steady calm, creative thinking and wicked sense of humor.” D’Atri had recounted a story about Pelayo coming to an LVNA meeting where he set a big pile of random belongings including purses, laptops, shoes and cell phones on a table, and said, “This is what happens when you don’t lock your car.”

Rotarian Leon Nixon said of the SLO, “He’s so personable, friendly, down to earth and easy to talk to.”

Clifford presented Pelayo with an engraved wooden cheese board from Wilshire Rotary. When he thanked the community and his LAPD work family, he choked up. “Thank you” was all he could muster. Seems like he’s going to miss his job as much as the neighborhood is going to miss him.

The Larchmont Chronicle joins the chorus saying “Farewell, Joe Pelayo, and thank you for your service!”

AWARDS AND GIFTS are presented to SLO Joe Pelayo by Rotarian Wendy Clifford.

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Category: People

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