As he strode early Friday from the aptly named "war room" -- a windowless conference area where Alexandria police detectives plot crime-fighting strategies and discuss investigations -- Derrill "Bill" Scott was, for the first time in 33 years, without the accessories of every cop: a badge and a gun.

Nearby, his desk was as bare and tidy as the day it was assigned to him.

And tucked into a back pocket was a newly laminated, department-issued identification card, with a photograph of the smiling officer as he looks now -- the mop of graying brown hair and bright blue eyes -- and a single word stamped atop: "RETIRED."

"It's been a very good ride," he said in a measured voice as he ambled down the steps outside the police building on Eisenhower Avenue, amid the cheers and whistles of his colleagues, with his wife, Joyce, at his side.

Beginning as a patrolman in 1972, Scott -- better known as Scotty among his colleagues and friends -- traversed the city's 16 square miles countless times, first in a cruiser and later as a homicide detective, who over the years has handled many of the city's most highly-publicized murder cases.

"If anyone deserves to retire and deserves the game ball, it's you," said Lt. Brett Hoover, commander of the department's criminal investigations section, as he passed a football to Scott with the signatures of fellow detectives and officers. Moments later, Scott and his wife stepped into a waiting limousine. The couple's daughter, Lyndsey, was away at a middle school basketball camp.

Next month, Scott will join the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, where he will be a sworn investigator. It seemed the most natural transition, he said.

Although he worked awhile as a crime-scene technician and an investigator with the robbery and property crimes teams, the greater part of his three-decade career in Alexandria was spent unraveling homicides.

"Every day, I saw and did something different," he said, estimating that he led or helped with more than 500 investigations of unexpected or suspicious deaths for which the homicide detectives are responsible. "Every one of those cases I loved."

More recently, Scott, 55, launched -- and solved -- investigations into the slayings of Schuyler Jones, 16, who was beaten in Old Town Alexandria nearly two years ago, and the killing of a Pakistani pizza deliveryman, who was shot to death in Old Town last year while on the job.

There are so many others on his resume, the victims and suspects of which he can recite like the alphabet: Katelynn Frazier, who at age 3 was neglected and abused and then fatally beaten in 2000 by her mother's boyfriend, months after being returned to her mother after a life spent mostly in foster care; Chander "Bobby" Matta, who was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison for killing three prostitutes over a 36-hour period during the Memorial Day holiday weekend the year before; and Robert S. Rixse, a prominent pediatrician killed in 1984 in a brutal murder-for-hire plot.

Over the years, Scott said, he worked the gamut of cruel crimes, from the slayings of infants to the stabbing deaths of elderly couples, the victims both poor and rich.

"Citizens will not understand what a quality detective has passed through our doors," Alexandria Deputy Police Chief Earl Cook said of Scott. "He cannot be duplicated. He was the one we went to when we had a very complex case, and that was not by mistake. We knew he could handle it and all the pressures that came with it."

Scott spent part of his childhood in the District, where he was born, and in Montgomery County before his family moved to Alexandria when he was 8. When he was 15, the family moved to the Franconia area of Fairfax County, and he graduated from Edison High School in 1968.

After receiving an associate's degree from Northern Virginia Community College and doing a short stint with the U.S. Postal Service, Scott joined the city's police force -- a somewhat impulsive decision, he said.

"It wasn't something I planned, not at all," he said.

Still, he seemed a natural, said his boss, Sgt. Robyn Nichols.

"He can walk in and right away have an idea about what happened," she said. "He's been around for so long that people in the community know him, they talk to him, they give him the information we need to solve cases."

As an investigator, Scott also was admired by those perceived to be working for the other side.

"In terms of his trying to solve crimes, he was very thorough, very bright, very dedicated to doing his job, and he went about it very professionally," said Jim Clark, an area defense attorney. "In terms of dealing with him as an adversary, Bill was always completely honest, completely candid."

As important, Clark said, Scott "saw himself as part of the system."

"If he was competent and honest, then he assumed it would allow the system to work, and he always worked on the assumption that the people on the other side operated in the same way," Clark said.

After his final roll call -- the beginning of every shift in which officers are given their assignments -- Friday morning, Scott gathered with his fellow detectives for pastries and coffee. They traded stories from the street, and the loud laughter echoed throughout the small space.

Later, his lips quivering, Scott shook their hands and then stepped into the limo, the blue and red flashing lights of two police motorcycles leading the retired detective home.

Detective Derrill "Bill" Scott poses for his wife, Joyce, by a limousine he rode home on the day he retired. "If anyone deserves to retire and deserves the game ball, it's" Scott, a colleague said. Background, driver Russell Anderson.