By Joe Beck -- email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Chief Richard H. Furr announced Friday he plans to retire Aug. 28, ending a 30-year career with the town Police Department that began as a patrol officer.
"It has been a dream come true and an honor for me to serve in this position beside the great men and women of the department," Furr said in a written announcement. "I have delayed my retirement for the past five years for this opportunity, and I feel that God has richly blessed me for it. I now plan to spend some more time with my wife and family, catch up on my "honey-do" list, and do some traveling."
Furr, 55, said in an interview that several major events affecting family members caused him to take stock of his own life in the last few weeks. The death of his father in February and the graduation of his daughter from college Sunday were among several of the factors he cited.
"These were kind of thought provoking events," he said.
Other town officials praised Furr and wished him well.
Mayor Timothy Darr said Furr spoke to him earlier this week about his retirement plans.
"I'm happy for him that he and wife are going to travel and enjoy his life," Darr said. "He's been a great public servant, and I'm just tickled to death he's taken the opportunity to realize there's more to life than just work."
Town manager Steve Burke described his working relationship with Furr as "outstanding."
"It's always been important to me to trust the people I work with, and I trust Chief Furr fully and respected all his decisions in operating the Police Department," Burke said.
Furr's wife, Ruth, was with him at police headquarters Friday, one of the few times she has visited the station during his career.
She declined to describe her reaction to his impending retirement, but then she added: "He's the one who had to determine it was time. A couple of people would say I was harassing him about it, but not really."
Furr said the department has reached 10 of the 12 goals he set for it when he became chief in April 2009. They include:
• Maintaining services through a recession that has threatened funding for the department.
• Reducing turnover among patrol officers.
• Reorganization of administrative staff.
• Increasing community policing initiatives.
The two goals not reached -- earning re-accreditation from the state and a revised pay scale for officers -- "may be on the horizon" he said.
Furr said he was within a few days of retiring from the department five years ago but was persuaded to stay by former Police Chief Ronald Williamson and former Town Manager Michael Graham after they disclosed that Williamson was nearing retirement. Both men asked him to consider applying for chief when the time came, although no promises were made, Furr said.
Furr joined the force in 1982 as patrol officer after stints as a correctional officer at Powhatan Correctional Center and as a patrol officer in Elkton.
He worked his way up through the ranks to sergeant, deputy chief and captain. He was had been interim chief for four months at the time of his appointment as permanent chief in 2009. He was the first member of the department to be honored as "police officer of the year" at the time of the program's inception in 1987.
Furr said he hopes his successor will be chosen from within the department, adding that grooming "the next leaders in this department" has been one of his goals. He also cited the trust and respect the department has gained among town residents as another reason for choosing someone from inside.
"They feel the department is professional, we're out here to do our job, and we're doing it well," he said, adding "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."