After serving more than 25 years with the Los Angeles World Airports (LAX) Police Division — including six years as the head of the police force — Chief Bernard J. Wilson has announced his plans to retire from city service. Los Angeles World Airports is the city agency that operates the city’s four airports.

Wilson, 52, who was appointed chief of airport police in April 1999, informed colleagues through a memo Friday, June 24th, that he will retire from the police force to pursue new opportunities.

The airport police chief said he has not set a date but he expects his retirement to take effect sometime during the summer.

“A number of decision points have come my way over the last few months, each of them leading to major opportunities,” Wilson said in a memo to colleagues. “After reflecting on those opportunities, I have decided to retire from city service and embark on the next phase of my life.”

Wilson has been a City of Los Angeles employee for 30 years.

He joined the airport police in 1979 as an officer and was promoted through the ranks to eventually become chief, said Tom Winfrey, LAX spokesman. As police chief, Wilson also held the position of LAX airport security coordinator.

During his service as police chief, Wilson was in charge of the 325-officer airport police force and was responsible for physical security of the six-square-mile LAX facility.

“Bernie Wilson has devoted his entire career to public service for the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport,” said Kim Day, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports. “He is recognized throughout the world as an expert in aviation security.

“The high level of security provided at LAX by airport police today is a reflection of his dedication and professionalism.”

Day said a successor for Wilson will be named after his retirement date is set. The airport police chief position is a civil service job that requires a test and a personnel process, Winfrey said.

Wilson has served with the airport police during numerous major crisis incidents at the airport, including aircraft accidents, terrorist incidents, bomb threats, labor disputes, industrial accidents and natural disasters.

In February, Wilson received an executive certificate from the State of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

He has also been awarded the California Commendation Medal from the State of California Military Department, the Leadership Award from the International Association of Airport & Seaport Police, and was named Honorary Special Agent from the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

“I believe there is a bright future ahead for all of you, and I will always be proud of my service with the Los Angeles Airport Police,” Wilson said to his colleagues.