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Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane to announce his retirement

August 1, 2012 | Virginia News

News Image Chief Deane is a Past President of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (2001-02) and was the 2010 recipient of the VACP President's Award

By Josh White, The Washington Post

Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane, the longest-serving chief in the Washington region and one of the most respected local law enforcement officials in the country, will retire Sept. 1, Deane told The Washington Post. He will leave after 42 years with the department, 24 of them as its top officer.

Deane said he informed county officials and close colleagues early Wednesday of his decision, which he said comes at a time of stability for Virginia’s third-largest police force. Just shy of his 67th birthday, Deane said he plans to continue working in law enforcement after a brief break.

“It’s a good time to transition,” Deane said in an interview this week. “Prince William has been a very exciting, dynamic place to work. It’s just as exciting today. The challenges are different, and the world is more complex. But we’ve developed a department that is second to none, and it’ll be in good hands.”

Deane’s tenure was marked by enormous community growth and some of the region’s most notable crimes – including the Washington-area sniper, the East Coast Rapist and the Lorena Bobbitt cases. The 1993 Bobbitt case, in which a woman was accused of cutting off her husband’s penis, was the department’s first exposure to international headlines.

His time as chief was unusual not just for its length, but because of the monumental change he has witnessed, both in the county and in policing. When Deane took the department’s helm in 1988, he was in a sleepy, rural Virginia outpost of dairy farms and 200,000 residents. Cellphones barely existed, police didn’t have DNA evidence, and the Internet – and the crimes on it – was barely imaginable. Deane had 239 officers and a budget of $16 million.

Prince William has since doubled in population and has transformed into a bustling Washington bedroom community with a major regional shopping center, a minor league baseball team, a large concert venue and one of the most diverse communities in the region. Police cars now have computers and license plate readers, the department has its own accredited training academy and forensics lab, and there are now nearly 600 sworn officers and a budget of $80 million.

Deane has earned a reputation for being nearly unflappable, handling crises such as the Washington-area sniper case in a no-nonsense manner. Deane regularly appeared at crime scenes and often called on his background as a criminal investigator. He told it like it was, getting out in front of crime trends and discussing them openly, even questioning controversial immigration policies.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum, for which Deane has served as Vice President, said Deane is “tough as nails.”

“He set the standard, not only around here, but nationally,” Wexler said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who served as D.C. police chief from 1998 to 2006, said he believes Deane is “one of the greatest police chiefs in America.”

“Law enforcement has really grown by leaps and bounds over the past 24 years,” Ramsey said. “It has been a tremendous transformation, but people like Charlie Deane can adjust, adapt and grow with those changes. It’s what makes him a great leader.”

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