Pima Community College's police chief is stepping down effective today in the wake of recent complaints from subordinates about her job performance.

Chief Stella Bay, who has led the college's Police Department since 2007, resigned amid allegations that she had poisoned officer morale to the point of imperiling campus safety.

Bay didn't respond Thursday to requests for comment. Two emails and a phone message left with a receptionist at her college office were not returned.

"The majority of PCC officers have no faith in Chief Bay," said a June 7 letter to the college from Matthew Cline, executive director of Local 449 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents the officers.

Cline said Bay created an "increasingly hostile work environment" that "is endangering the employees and the students that attend the college."

The letter did not cite specific examples of endangerment, and Cline wouldn't comment further when contacted Thursday by the Arizona Daily Star.

Neither would Virginia Ortega, head of the union local's executive committee.

Cline's letter was a follow-up to an earlier complaint about Bay submitted May 1 to the college's interim chancellor.

That letter, from the Police Department's officers and civilian personnel, said PCC was being shortchanged on police protection "due to the negative impact that Chief Bay has had on morale and operations."

It said the chief showed chronic disdain for the officers she led, openly berating them and blaming subordinates when things went wrong, "yet the irony is that she micromanages all aspects of the department," the letter said.

"This has caused delay in appropriate responses and in some cases a failure to respond at all," it said.

As with Cline's letter, no specifics were provided to back up the assertion that police response had been impaired.

Several weeks before the recent complaints arose, PCC's Governing Board voted to extend Bay's contract as chief until June 2014. By leaving now she forfeits the $100,000 salary she would have earned between now and then.

Bay's June 18 resignation letter said she enjoyed working at PCC but was looking forward to a breather after nearly four decades in law enforcement.

Before coming to the college, Bay spent 31 years at Tucson Police Department, where she retired as a lieutenant in 2006.

PCC's much smaller Police Department has 38 full-time and 22 part-time employees. The college hasn't yet identified who will replace Bay until a new chief is chosen.

Both the recent complaint letters about Bay said her leadership problems were evident for years and that the PCC executive responsible for overseeing her failed to properly address several earlier complaints.

Finance and administration boss David Bea, to whom Bay reported, did not respond Thursday to two emails requesting comment on the claim he mishandled earlier complaints.

In a message to PCC employees Wednesday announcing Bay's retirement, Bea said the chief was "instrumental in helping to ensure that students, staff, and faculty experience a safe and secure educational environment here at the college."

The complaints against Bay weren't mentioned.

PCC recently was placed on probation by its accreditor after an investigation found serious problems with the school's governance and administration.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.