Albemarle County Police Chief Ron Lantz has announced his retirement effective March 1, joining a wave of county government department heads and high-level employees who have announced their retirements or left during the last year.
And while he has not officially announced his resignation publicly, Albemarle’s County Attorney Greg Kamptner has told leadership that he is retiring in 2022.
In addition, at least six other high-level county government employees have retired, left or changed jobs in 2021.
Earlier this year, the county’s Chief of Public Works Michael Freitas retired, and Siri Russell, director of the county’s Office of Equity & Inclusion, left to take a position at the University of Virginia School of Data Science. Deputy Director of Community Development Amelia McCulley is retiring effective Jan. 1.
The county has hired new directors for human resources, social services and information technology departments, in the last two months due to retirements and promotions.
After Lantz and Kamptner retire, directors or heads of all but two county departments will have changed since 2016.
Most of the changes have been retirements, reflecting a nationwide trend of older employees deciding that it’s time to split. Experts attribute the increase in retirements after COVID-19 to the pandemic itself, with people assessing life goals and priorities, and also to a soaring stock market that has bolstered retirement funds.
Retirements of high-level employees can be costly for an organization.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to use a search firm to find the next county attorney. It has not been decided if the county will use a search firm to find a new police chief.
“But it is likely that we will use an external contract services,” County spokesperson Emily Kilroy said.
Kilroy said there will be a fixed fee-for-service of $28,500, for the county attorney plus the costs of advertising, background checks for finalists and costs of travel for final, in-person interviews.
“The finance and budget department is working to identify the specific source for those expenditures,” Kilroy said.
She said staff will first look at salary lapse within the department, then at county executive department salary lapse and finally at a reserve for contingencies, if necessary.
According to a state and local government workforce 2021 trends survey by MissionSquare Research Institute, more retirement-eligible employees are accelerating their retirement date.
“When this survey was first fielded in 2009, 44% of governments indicated that their retirement-eligible employees were postponing retirement—a recession-influenced peak,” the report said. “Now, influenced by the events of the past year, 38% indicated that employees are accelerating their plans—the highest percentage to report that since the survey began.”
Retirement-age baby boomer employees leaving the workforce has sometimes been referred to as a “silver tsunami.” According to a Pew Research Center analysis of monthly labor force data, the number of retired baby boomers rose more from 2019 to 2020 than in prior years.
In August, Kaki Dimock started as the county’s director of social services, succeeding Phyllis Savides, who retired after 23 years with Albemarle. Ti-Kimena-Mia Coltrane began as Albemarle’s director of human resources in September after Lorna Gerome retired after 21 years with the county.
Roderick Burton, formerly the county’s chief of knowledge management and communications in the IT Department, was promoted to department director after former director Michael Culp became the director of the county’s new Broadband Affordability & Accessibility Office.
Kilroy said a search firm was used for the director of human resources position, but the director of social services recruitment process was done internally. She said on Friday that she did not know the cost of that search firm.
When deciding whether to utilize a search firm, the county looks at such things as the competitive market of the position and the anticipated difficulty of filling the position in question. Other considerations are whether the search needs to go beyond Virginia and whether the HR department has time to recruit, Kilroy said.
Lantz began his career in Albemarle in 2012, as the deputy chief, and was promoted to chief in 2016. Under his leadership, ACPD implemented the Geographic Based Policing initiative, established a cyber forensic lab, instituted a public safety pay plan and, this winter, will launch a body-worn camera program.
“I could not be prouder of the work the men and women of the Albemarle County Police Department do every day,” Lantz said in a news release. “It truly has been my honor and privilege to lead this team. Albemarle County is a special place to live and work, and I am so thankful I was blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of this community.”
When he retires, Lantz will have worked for Albemarle for nine years, including nearly 6 years as chief, and capping a career of more than 33 years in law enforcement in Virginia.