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Just as he planned it, Sellers stepping down as Albemarle’s police chief

December 10, 2015 | Virginia News

News Image For Col. Steve Sellers, five years at the helm is enough. On Wednesday, the 34-year police veteran announced he will hang up his gun and badge next summer and retire from his post as Albemarle County’s police chief.

While Seller’s announcement comes as a surprise to some people — which also comes on the heels of Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy J. Longo’s retirement announcement last month — Sellers said he knew exactly when he was going to retire. He said he committed to five years on the job and that deadline has come around.

“I decided to retire before I was hired,” Sellers, 54, said. “If you know anything about me, I’m a strategic thinker. I’m a planner. This was not something I just decided to do.”

“I don’t think any chief should be around longer than seven years — I just don’t.”

While personal reasons lie at the heart of Sellers’ decision, he said it’s important for police agencies to grow and innovate. He said his years of experience have been vital to his role as a leader, but added that a good police chief needs to be able to adapt to the times and not get stuck behind the experience.

“I’ve been a police officer for a long time,” said Sellers. “When it’s all said and done, 34 years of police service. That’s a lot of experience, and experience hampers innovation.”

“To carry policing into the 21st century adequately, you need innovation,” he added. “I’m not saying I’m not innovative — I am — but sometimes experience blocks that. It’s time for a fresh set of eyes to move this department to the next level.”

Sellers began his police career with the Fairfax County Police Department, where he spent more than 28 years and eventually reached the position of deputy chief of police. Thinking about his future retirement, Sellers began looking for a place where he and his wife, Jennifer, could eventually settle down. That’s when he found Charlottesville.

“My wife and I thought, ‘Wow, this would be a really neat place to retire,’” Sellers said.

Sellers then saw that the Albemarle County Police Department was looking for a new chief and, thinking it would be a good opportunity, put his name in for the job. 

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As a police chief, Sellers also was on the executive board of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. He said he wanted a chance to learn from other police chiefs and said it was important to hear from both small and large police departments across the state. Williamsburg Police Chief Dave Sloggie, president of the board, said it was a pleasure to work with Sellers.

“Chief Sellers is a unique individual,” Sloggie said. “He has been a calm and insightful friend and law enforcement partner. He has served the citizens admirably, providing ethical guidance and leadership in the county, as well as statewide to the entire law enforcement community.”

“I feel honored to know him and privileged to have worked closely with him on the VACP board,” he added. “He will be greatly missed throughout Virginia. I wish him good health and happiness in his well-deserved retirement.”

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