MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Muskegon will have to start searching again for a new police chief after the only remaining candidate dropped out.

Muskegon Public Safety Director Jeffrey Lewis announced his retirement in February. The city offered the role to Vincent Acevez, but he turned it down.

He said in a statement he made the decision because of his family.

“It was a wonderful opportunity in an amazing community, but ultimately we decided as a family that it was not best for us at this point. I will always be grateful to the outgoing and incoming city managers and the City of Muskegon for how well they treated my family during our short stay, and the trust they showed in me. Whoever steps into that role will be taking over an outstanding public safety department.”

Vincent Acevez

Interim City Manager LeighAnn Mikesell said the city was surprised by the decision.

“We really felt like he was going to be a good fit,” Mikesell said.

She is working on continuing the search and finding a way to ensure there is not a leadership void for the department.

“Jeff has been fantastic, and he will certainly be missed. All the people that work for him are still here. Still working and still as dedicated as they ever were and so I don’t have any concerns about what will happen when he retires,” Mikesell said.

Mikesell is not yet providing details of what the interim plan may be.

“We are working on a solution. Unfortunately, I was pretty hopeful about this candidate that we had and so I’m a little bit off guard with this decision to decline so I’ll be working with our city leadership and talking about what the best way forward is,” she said.

The interim city manager acknowledged the search for a chief may take some time.

“I know that people that work in public safety are in demand right now and so we may even have some difficulty,” Mikesell said. “We will just have to figure out the best way to figure out the best way to get the word out and make sure that people are understanding the good things that are happening here.”