RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The superintendent of the Virginia State Police is retiring, but the agency’s spokeswoman says his departure is unrelated to this summer’s violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Governor-elect Ralph Northam made the announcement along with other administration appointments Tuesday afternoon at Richmond’s Fire Station No. 17.
Colonel W. Steven Flaherty’s retirement marks the third departure in two days of a public official who had a role in responding to the deadly rally. State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said, however, that Flaherty’s retirement is unrelated.
She says he had been planning to step down at the end of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration.
“My family and I have been planning this for a long time,” Flaherty said following the announcement. “Fourteen years of 24/7 365 on the phone – don’t tell Colonel Settle that’s what he’s getting into – it’s just time for me to go.”
Lieutenant Colonel Gary Settle was tapped to be Flaherty’s successor. Settle is currently the director of VSP’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Flaherty has been with the agency more than 42 years. He said serving as superintendent has been the “greatest honor” of his life.
Flaherty was at the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 attacks, at Virginia Tech after 32 people were killed in 2007 and has been a source of comfort and stability for the department when they have lost some of their own.
“I have watched your leadership to preside over some of the things that are perhaps difficult,” Northam said during the announcement. “I just want to thank you for your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Northam said Settle has big shoes to fill, but noted he, too, is highly respected.
The retirement and replacement will be effective Feb. 1.
Officials announced earlier Tuesday that Charlottesville City Attorney Craig Brown will leave his job at the end of January. Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas announced his retirement Monday after less than two years in the job.