May 31, 2014
An Albemarle County Police officer has donned a uniform on the streets for the past 31 years, and now he's ready to hang it up.
Cpl. Ken Richardson is the last original member of the department, and he officially retired on Monday.
"You know when it's time to go, and it's my time to go," Richardson said. "I'm leaving it to the new generation to take this department and take it to better things."
Many things have changed over the course of three decades, and Richardson has seen them all. When the force became a separate entity from the sheriff's department in 1983, he was one of five officers hired. Now, he's the last one in law enforcement.
"I had a tube radio in my car. It took five minutes to warm up," Richardson said. "I even had to force myself to do computers. When I first started working with a computer, it was very hard to adapt to, especially somebody who wrote everything on paper."
But over the years, he adapted and became a shift manager.
"Ken is always here before everybody else in the morning and always the last one to leave in the evening," said Capt. Pete Mainzer.
When Mainzer joined the force in 1986, Richardson was his field training officer.
"He is in his element and he is at his best when he is out in the field helping to manage some type of scene or incident," Mainzer said.
And in those high-stress situations, both Richardson and Mainzer say it doesn't take long to feel like family.
"Police work is very unique in and of itself because it becomes a brotherhood, and I've met a lot of very unique people in this job, and some I'll always remember in my heart," Richardson said.
Mainzer said there's going to be a void in the department, and one that's not easy to fill. But Richardson said he's looking forward to spending more time with his wife, kids and grandchildren.
"That bond's always going to be in my heart to these guys, and I'm going to be with them when they go on a call," Richardson said.
The police department will honor Richardson at a ceremony on Wednesday night. For now, he said he plans to do more fishing and will take a trip to Virginia Beach this weekend to celebrate.