State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson's days at the agency are numbered and Edmonson said Wednesday afternoon that it is his choice.
"I think it's a sad day but it's a joyous day," Edmonson said in an interview after announcing his retirement in a statement earlier in the day.
He said Gov. John Bel Edwards did not ask him to step down amid a growing scandal and investigations into State Police travel expenses and other issues.
"I think in sitting down I had a very emotional visit with dad, who I could not respect more, and to watch that emotional moment and see that in him, I thought to myself, it's time to go home," Edmonson.
Edmonson will retire in just days after nearly 40 years with State Police and nine years as superintendent of the force.
"This is not a voluntary departure. This is a departure where the agency is under a cloud. I don't think that I've seen the agency under this type of cloud before," said Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
FOX 8's Lee Zurik recently investigated expenses tied to a trip by some state troopers.
"That trip to San Diego, those four conferences - that's going to come out and we're going to be fine, and we're going to be better for it. If protocols need to be changed, if rules, I've already changed policy and procedure. If there's stays that were not approved, if time was not approved, if anything was done incorrectly, it's going to be fixed. I don't believe anything that was done was with intent, but you know what we'll find that out as we move forward on it. These were good people and just made a poor decision to ask the state to reimburse them for that," said Edmonson after announcing his retirement.
In the joint statement issued by Edmonson and Governor Edwards earlier in the day, Edwards said: "Today, after careful consideration and many discussions regarding the future of the state police, Col. Edmonson notified me of his retirement. Together, we believe this is the best approach for the department."
U.S. Senator John Kennedy had called on Edmonson to resign.
Kennedy said after the announcement, "I have not agreed with many of his policies. He tried to pass a special bill in the legislature to try to get him special retirement benefits, and, ultimately we were able to kill the bill…I like him personally. but, this isn't about him personally or me personally, This is about taxpayer money."
Goyeneche notes that three investigations are underway.
"This isn't just about and isolated incident, this isn't just about the San Diego trip. The San Diego trip is a symptom and there were other manifestations of problems under this administration, some of which is under investigation federally as well as the two entities, and the public is not aware of some of the problems that have occurred behind the curtains within the Louisiana State Police," continued Goyeneche.
Still, Edmonson is receiving praise as a law enforcement partner in the New Orleans area.
"It's rare that he ever said no to our requests of needing help when we needed help for special events and things of that nature…I don't know all of the particulars behind the situation, but he's one that's been fair and easy to work with as the head of organization and always believed that crime knows no geographic boundary, and we need to collaborate and bring all resources together," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.
New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison and Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued a joint statement in response to Edmonson's impending retirement: "Col. Edmonson has been a stalwart ally in the fight to keep the people of New Orleans safe, and a great friend to the NOPD. Under his leadership, the Louisiana State Police and the New Orleans Police Department have benefited from an effective and healthy partnership. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
Edmonson said during the interview that his decision is in the best interest of the agency he led and the state at-large.
"I did a lot of soul-searching, a lot of praying… I always believed that God's plan was perfect," Edmonson stated.