Fairfax County Police Chief Carroll D. Buracker announced yesterday he will retire in February to start a consulting firm in law enforcement and industrial security.
Buracker, a 19-year veteran of the county police department, started as a patrolman and served in every rank before being named chief in August 1981. He said he made the decision to retire in October after "agonizing consideration."
In an interview yesterday, Buracker, 42, cited financial and career reasons for quitting the $66,953 a year position, and said he has "accomplished my goals" as chief of "the top police department in the country."
Buracker announced the decision to senior police officers, and County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert announced it to county supervisors, who later made the decision public.
Lambert said that although he attempted to dissuade Buracker from resigning, he believed the police chief "wants a change."
Police officials declined to speculate publicly on Buracker's successor. Richard A. King, deputy county executive for public safety, said that "significant weight" would be given to Buracker's suggestions on who should be the next chief of the 1,147-member department.
Lambert will make a recommendation on the new chief, with the final decision left to the Board of Supervisors. Board Chairman John F. Herrity said yesterday that Buracker's successor will be chosen from within the county department.
In a four-page memorandum to Lambert, Buracker pointed to a declining crime rate in the county and high morale in the police force, declaring, "I pass to you and the new leadership of the department a proud and strong organization."
Buracker acknowledged yesterday that "the financial gain of staying on diminishes considerably" after he is eligible for retirement benefits in February 1985. He said he ill receive a pension from the county of about $29,000 a year.
He also said he looks forward to a private-sector job that does not demand a commitment of up to 75 hours a week, as his current role does, and acknowledged that the high visibility required from a county police chief is occasionally stressful.
Buracker said the consulting firm, to be called Buracker and Associates and based in Fairfax County, "is a challenge for me, and I'm very goal-oriented."
He added that he may reenter the public sector eventually. "I have some goals of being a spokesman for the law enforcement community in the country," he said.
Before becoming chief of police 3 1/2 years ago, Buracker earned a reputation as a friend of the beat officer on the Fairfax police force, the largest police agency in Virginia and one of the biggest in the metropolitan area.
Buracker is known to be sensitive to criticism of the department. The department came under fire shortly after he became chief when a supervisor in the 911 emergency operations center was demoted after he leaked an internal report to The Washington Post detailing shortcomings in that department.
The supervisor, Robert E. Jurgensen, sued the county and won a $12,000 decision from federal district court, but the decision was overturned this fall by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
As a newly appointed deputy chief in the summer of 1979, Buracker spent two months in patrol cars with officers five evenings a week after completing his eight-hour work shifts.
He said yesterday that the principal accomplishments of his 40-month tenure as chief of police in Fairfax were technological innovations within the department, advancing a career-development program for department employes and establishing tighter links with communities.
In his letter to Lambert, Buracker said serious crime is down by 25 percent in Fairfax since 1980, even though the population has grown by about 60,000. He added that burglaries are down by 44 percent for the same period, and have declined for 42 consecutive months.