Tom Simms, Santa Rosa?s interim police chief, will turn in his badge today, 20 weeks before his one-year contract expires.

Simms, 62, said he is undergoing treatment for heart disease.

?It was a wake-up call for me,? Simms said of his illness and brief hospitalization this year. ?My health is the important thing and my three beautiful granddaughters.?

City Manager Jeff Kolin said Capt. Tom Schwedhelm has been appointed acting chief and will lead the department at least through Aug. 1.

Schwedhelm has taken the department?s reigns before: He served as acting chief between Simms and Chief Ed Flint, who resigned abruptly last July.

Schwedhelm also is among the candidates being considered to take the job permanently, Kolin said.

Simms signed a one-year contract with the city, to end Aug1. But shortly after starting the job he learned he had heart disease, Simms said.

He decided to resign late last week on the advice of his cardiologist.

While on the job, he worked to reunite a department his predecessor had called ?dysfunctional.? In a September interview, he said his focus was on communicating with employees and managers through formal and informal channels.

Simms came out of retirement to take the job with Santa Rosa police when Flint left the post.

?He stepped into a tough situation. A captain was terminated and the chief resigned. He took on a lot,? said Ken Johnson, head of the police officers union, referring to the termination of Capt. Jamie Mitchel and Flint?s departure.

Johnson said Simms earned the approval of officers. ?He was doing a really good job,? he said. ?If he didn?t have the medical condition that he has we would love to have him for another five years.?

Simms will return to his home in Granite Bay, where he lives with his wife.

He has not submitted paperwork for a disability claim, Kolin said, but would be eligible to under his contract.

Kolin said the city?s search for a permanent chief, which began in early January, is progressing on schedule.

Candidates will be interviewed April 13 and Kolin anticipates filling the position in July, according to the initial timeline.

Simms? early departure will not affect the timing of the hiring process, Kolin said.

You can reach Staff Writer Laura Norton at 521-5220 or