BOULDER -- Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby will leave the embattled department sooner than he expected.
Koby had planned to retire at the end of the year, but said Tuesday he will step down as soon as a replacement chief is found, which could be as soon as May.
The decision for Koby to depart sooner was made by City Manager Dave Rhodes.
``It's time to step back,'' Koby said this morning. ``I knew it would be time. Even before Ramsey I knew about a possible transition.''
The police chief has come under fire for his handling of the now 15-month-old JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation. The 6-year-old child beauty queen was found Dec. 26, 1996, in the basement of her family's Boulder home. The case remains unsolved.
Koby added that he will probably not stay in Boulder, but said he doesn't know exactly what he will do.
Though he has been with the department for nearly eight years, he said he feels no sadness about leaving.
``I've been doing this for 30 years. I'm in a unique position in life,'' Koby said. ``I'm going to get away from the madness.
``I might come back to policing, but I need to get away for a while.''
Boulder Mayor Bob Greenlee said most of the council members are happy with the recent decision.
``It's for the good of the department,'' Greenlee said. ``We thought it might be appropriate to begin sooner than later to look for his replacement.''
Koby also has been criticized for his department's handling of student riots on University Hill last spring. And last May, police union members issued a vote of no confidence against Koby.
Koby will help in the process for selecting a new chief from within the ranks, but the ultimate decision will be left with Rhodes. During his remaining months, Koby will work in the city manager's office on a number of special projects.
The city also has announced it will change the name of the position from police chief to director of police services.
Koby lost a key supporter when Tim Honey resigned as city manager in June under pressure from City Council members dissatisfied with some of his actions. Koby came to Boulder after retiring from the Houston Police Department. He added he has no intention of returning to Houston. Meanwhile, 145 subpoenas were mailed Tuesday to Boulder County residents who are potential members of a grand jury. The grand jury will likely hear evidence in the Ramsey murder investigation.