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Michael Taborn, Metro Transit Police chief, to retire

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Metro Transit Police Chief Michael A. Taborn, who has been with the agency for 31 years, announced Thursday that he is retiring.

Taborn, 60, has served as chief since 2008, overseeing about 500 officers operating in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Metro said it will conduct a nationwide search to replace Taborn, who is expected to stay on to help oversee operations on Inauguration Day next month and then step down in the spring.

In an interview, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said Taborn told him a “couple of years ago that he wanted to retire.” But Sarles said he told him that he’d like him “to stick around.”

On Thursday, Taborn met with Metro board members in executive session and told them about his plans to retire from the post, which pays him $181,280 a year.

During his tenure as police chief, Taborn oversaw the addition of 100 officers to the force and fostered more cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in combating vehicle break-ins in Metro parking lots.

Still, crime in the Metro system ebbs and flows.

Aggravated assaults, burglaries and robberies are up by about 7 percent as of October — the most recent month for which statistics are available — compared with last year, according to Metro. Crime at parking facilities is down 26 percent, compared with the same period last year.

Taborn has a long history with Metro, having worked under every general manager, he said, including the first, Jackson Graham.

He started as an officer, rose through the ranks to become a captain and served for 10 years as the training division commander. He resigned in 2002 to work for the Federal Transit Administration. At the FTA, he served as the director of the Office of Transit Safety and Security before returning to Metro in 2008 as chief.

Taborn said he had planned to stay in the chief’s job for five years and intends to do consulting work after leaving the agency.

“It is time to turn another page in my life and slow down a little bit,” he said in an interview. “And not be wedded to a BlackBerry 24-7.”

Taborn’s tenure was marked by criticism from some quarters.

Some riders and bus operators have complained that he has not put enough officers on trains and buses, even as misbehavior and violence plague some bus routes.

Taborn’s officers also have had concerns.

Last year, he received a vote of “no confidence” from the union that represents Metro’s transit officers. It said the department had not fixed a faulty police radio system. Metro said it has since put in new equipment that should alleviate the problem of radios not working in some tunnels and certain parts of the system.

Taborn defended himself by saying that the union didn’t “offer up anything” on what its complaints were. “I haven’t heard anything of what their issues were,” he said. “It was publicized but not identified as to the causes of their concerns.”

He said he has an open-door policy and meets daily with the staff members who report directly to him and two to three times a year with rank-and-file officers and detectives.

In a recent survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, officers under Taborn said he has run a department that they said was too top-heavy and not prepared enough for possible terrorist attacks.

© The Washington Post Company