COSTA MESA — In a letter sent to Police Department employees Friday, retired Costa Mesa Police Capt. Ron Smith remorsefully accepted responsibility for being put on leave by the city.

"I now recognize how my inattention and unexcused absence from duty placed a heavier burden on many of you and adversely affected my ability to serve," Smith, a 32-year veteran wrote in a letter obtained by the Daily Pilot.

"I do not have the words to express to you my remorse for anything I have done to lose the trust and confidence you once had in me. As I refocus my life and move forward, I sincerely wish the best to each of you."

Outgoing City Manager Allan Roeder placed Smith and Police Chief Chris Shawkey on administrative leave in November.

In private, police officers often criticized the two for absenteeism. Smith taught criminal justice part-time at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

City expense records show that Shawkey made frequent trips to Arizona, where he worked before coming to California. Smith signed off on many of those reports.

"I cannot imagine another career choice that could have ever provided me the opportunities I have had to both serve the public and associate with people of your caliber," Smith wrote.

Roeder, who is set to retire next week, has declined to comment on the circumstances around Smith and Shawkey's suspensions.

Smith has since retired. The city investigation into Shawkey is ongoing.

"That's my farewell," Smith told the Daily Pilot on Friday. "I wanted to say goodbye to the troops. I was proud to be part of a fine organization, and I'm fully confident that the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department will continue in their fine tradition of community service."

Capt. Les Gogerty has been serving as the interim police chief.