After 30 years as president of the New Haven Police Department police union, Sgt. Louis Cavaliere announced his retirement Tuesday.

Cavaliere, who has been a New Haven police officer since 1968, drew fire in February with inflammatory remarks in response to the layoffs of 16 officers. Because of the reduced police force, Cavaliere said, “the people of New Haven are going to have to start arming themselves” for protection.

While Mayor John DeStefano Jr. called Cavaliere’s remarks “irresponsible,” he had warm words for the union chief in a statement released Tuesday:

Lou has many characteristics of a good labor leader. Whether you were a member of the union or the mayor, you knew where you stood with Lou because he was always straightforward when he communicated with someone. He is the kind of guy you can have an argument with one day and a beer the next. I have a lot of respect for Lou and I know his heart will always be with the New Haven Police Department.

Cavaliere will likely stay on until after an election is held for his replacement in May, according to a report by the New Haven Independent.