POMONA - Joe Romero has been fired from his post as the city's police chief.

Romero said he received the news Tuesday morning when he met with City Manager Linda Lowry at one of their regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings.

Romero, who was an at-will employee, said he was not given a reason for his termination, although "the city manager did mention she wants to see the department go in a different direction."

The city administration declined to comment on Romero's employment status.

"At this time, it's an ongoing personnel matter, and we don't comment on personnel matters," said Mark Gluba, assistant to the city manager.

Mayor Elliott Rothman could not be reached for comment.

City Council members Cristina Carrizosa and Steve Atchley said they would not comment on the matter because it was a personnel issue.

Romero said it would be inappropriate for him to say what he believes prompted his dismissal.

He said his immediate concerns revolve around his wife and ensuring there is a smooth transition in the Police Department leadership and "the welfare of the city."

Romero, a Pomona native, was a Police Explorer in his teens and eventually became a police officer. He was hired as chief in September 2006.

Romero endured several controversies during his short period heading the Police Department.

In December 2007, a clash with then-Mayor Norma Torres prompted Romero to talk about retirement.

This year, there has been a controversy over the use of checkpoints, an issue that brought criticism from Carrizosa.

In October, Romero objected to an account of his rise through the department in Rothman's campaign literature, which gave the appearance Romero had endorsed Rothman when he had not made any endorsements.

Also that month, Rothman was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, but he was found not to be legally drunk at the time.

Romero - who had 28 months left on his contract - said he will meet with the city's human resources director and expects to get direction from Lowry on his departure.

He plans to be at work today to address previously scheduled appointments and to meet with the department's command staff.

Romero said he told the department he had been fired.

"What I emphasized is that I didn't want this to become a spectacle," he said. "I don't want it to distract the men and women of the department from the responsibility to protect this city."

Representatives of the city's police labor organizations said Romero's dismissal caught them off guard.

"Obviously, this is very surprising to me and all my colleagues. None of us had an inkling," said Lt. Paul Capraro, president of the Pomona Police Managers' Association.

On Tuesday, there was "a lot of emotion, a lot of speculation and a lot of questions" among members of the department, Capraro said.

But as managers "we will continue to do our jobs with professionalism," he said.

Officer Eddie Vazquez, president of the Pomona Police Officers Association, said Romero's termination comes at a time when the city and the department are facing difficult fiscal times.

The department has lost a number of people to retirement, and those positions aren't being filled because of budget constraints, Vasquez said.

Officers now are wondering how the department will be reorganized, he said.

In a time with so much uncertainty, the chief's departure "is one more stone being added to the pile."