Winnipeg Police chief Keith McCaskill said Friday that he will retire Dec. 9 after five years as head of the police force.

McCaskill, 57, who was sworn in as police chief in December 2007, joined the Winnipeg Police Service in 1976.

McCaskill said he's pleased with progress the force has made with the cadet program, community policing initiatives and putting a helicopter in the air over Winnipeg.

But he said it's time for new leadership and in making the announcement now he said the city can begin the process of selecting a new chief.

"You can not succeed in the Winnipeg Police Service and any other police service unless you have relationships, and strong relationships, not only inside the organization but out," McCaskill said during his announcement. "Outside, whether it's the Aboriginal community or others, you have to make sure you work together ... cause you're not going to solve things if you don't."

Prior to being named chief, McCaskill was Coordinator of Aboriginal and Municipal Law Enforcement with the Province of Manitoba’s Criminal Justice Division.

Before that he held various leadership roles within Winnipeg's police force, including Divisional Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division and Division Commander of District 3 and District 2.

He said he would like it if one of his current colleagues was chosen as the next chief.

"We've got some excellent people within the organization," he said. "I'm hoping it's going to be an inside chief. You know, somebody from inside the ranks, but we will see what they decide."

Winnipeg's mayor said he was not surprised that McCaskill decided to leave after one five-year contract as chief. The mayor also praised the work McCaskill did and his communication skills.

"He listened. He listened to everybody," Sam Katz said. "Which was important. He would listen to the public at large. He would attend community gatherings."

McCaskill is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy, and of the Canadian Police College’s Senior Police Administration Course and Executive Development Course.

He was elected President of the FBI National Academy Associates North West Chapter representing law enforcement officers from South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba.