Over the past 35 years, Jeffrey Falconer has held just about every position in the North Fayette police department.
Now, after five years as chief, the lifelong township resident is planning to retire Dec. 31.
Chief Falconer said he plans to pursue possible teaching positions in criminal justice or a related field and to continue as an instructor of junior archery. He also enjoys hunting and fishing.
"There are still goals I'd like to accomplish through other avenues, better served outside the police department," Chief Falconer said. "It's time to hand over the reins to a younger generation of leaders."
He said his proudest moments have involved community outreach, such as being the only municipal police force in Allegheny County to establish a departmental chaplain; holding popular self-defense and women's firearms classes; and participating in the township's program for children with special needs.
"We, as a police department, are doing more than we ever have to develop a true police/community partnership," he said.
One of his guiding principles for interacting with the public has been a lesson learned from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, which places importance on content of character.
"I'm not going to judge you based on the color of your skin, the length of your hair, the music you listen to, the religion you follow," Mr. Falconer said. "I'm going to judge you on your moral character."
Supervisors approved Mr. Falconer's retirement Tuesday along with a separation agreement with a payment, but did not disclose the terms. The chief will retire one year into a two-year contract.
Manager Bob Grimm said the township has not yet decided on the process for hiring a new chief to succeed Chief Falconer, 57, who was born and raised in North Fayette, where he still lives with his wife, Christine.
He spent his entire career working his way through the ranks of the township's police department, first as a summer intern and then as a part-time officer while attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
He would return to North Fayette on weekends and work the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift for three nights before heading back to college, where he earned a bachelor's degree in criminology.
North Fayette eventually paid for him to attend the police academy and hired him full time on Jan. 1, 1978.
He has served as patrol officer, sergeant, detective and lieutenant and was promoted to chief in December 2007 to replace retiring chief Michael Smith.
Being chief was the most difficult job, Chief Falconer said.
"The transition is you're still the same person, but you're viewed differently because you're the boss," he said.
"I didn't realize before I took the position what it truly entails."
When he accepted the head post, he planned to keep it until his daughter, Elissa, 22, graduated from Miami University in Ohio. She's now finished and is applying to medical school, he said.neigh_west
Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.