Col. W. Steven Flaherty of the Virginia State Police, speaking during a news conference in Blacksburg, Va., on April 18, 2007. (Chris Keane/Reuters)

The superintendent of the Virginia State Police plans to step down after serving four governors, a spokeswoman for the department said Tuesday.

Col. Steven W. Flaherty, who was originally appointed by Gov. Mark R. Warner in 2003, plans to retire when Gov. Terry McAuliffe's term expires in January. Flaherty joined the department in 1975.

Flaherty, in a statement, called the job the "greatest honor of my life."

Lt. Colonel Gary T. Settle, a 32-year law enforcement veteran, will succeed Flaherty as superintendent.

The announcement comes two weeks after a scathing report criticized police response to a white-supremacist rally, which caused widespread violence and claimed the life of a protester in Charlottesville in August.

The announcement also comes one day after Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas announced that he was stepping down amid criticism of his department's handling of the rally. The Charlottesville police, the state police and other departments handled security for the rally.

Corinne Geller, a Virginia State Police spokeswoman, said the timing of Flaherty's retirement had nothing to do with the report or criticism of the department's handling of the Charlottesville rally.

"He's been planning this for some time," Geller said.