WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – How do you know when it’s time to retire? ABC4 News put that question to several Utah police officers who recently decided to call it a career and find out what makes them say they’re ready to walk away, in this edition of Behind the Badge.
Knowing when it’s time to retire isn’t an easy decision. Just ask NFL superstar Tom Brady. From this February to last, he retired twice in one year.
“You only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year,” said Tom Brady in an Instagram video announcing his second retirement.
Brady played football for over 20 years, and finally called it quits at age 45. That timeline is also similar for Utah police officers, many work 20-plus years and then decide it’s time to move on. The latest to hang it up is, now former, West Valley Police Sgt. Anthony Chapman.
At 43 years old, Chapman doesn’t look like a guy who would be retiring. Chapman retired just three weeks ago from the West Valley City Police force. The department threw him a big sendoff party.
“I got in law enforcement pretty early and 20 years came by and went,” said Chapman. “It is a weird feeling, it’s sort of surreal. This is it you know. It’s not a dream. We’re not joking anymore. This is it.”
“How did you know it was time to retire?” ABC4’s Brian Carlson asked.
“I think mentally you just know when you’re ready to go, as like a sports player, they want you to retire when you’re (on a) high, not when you’re on your low, you just sort of know, just mentally, physically, you’re like it’s time,” said Chapman.
Former West Valley City Deputy Police Chief Scott Buchanan just went through it 10 months ago. He retired after 26 years on the force. As comfortable as he was saying goodbye, he said letting go was harder than he expected.
“I underestimated the emotional toll; You could do all the planning that you want, but it definitely was a shock to the system, when you remove yourself from this family we call law enforcement,” said Former Dep. Chief Buchanan.
Both men said becoming eligible to receive their police pension played a big role in the decision, but they also wanted enough time to start a new career, one Chapman is looking forward to.
“There’s a little less stress, not worry about being called out, not worried about a lot of other things you worry about being a police officer,” Chapman said.
Part of what worried Chapman as an officer was the increasing pressure brought on by added technology and nationwide anger against the police.
“That helps build the pressure to be perfect, which nobody can be. A lot of times, we feel like we have to be perfect, we can’t make mistakes. A mistake from us could cost someone their lives, which is unfortunate nobody wants that, but that pressure being perfect sometimes can get old,” he said.
For both of these men timing played a key role. Buchanan also told ABC4 he stayed an extra six years after becoming eligible for his pension because he felt he still had room to grow.
For Chapman, as young as he is, he has kids right now moving on to college. So, they said the situation at home and what they got out of the job day to day are big factors too.
Despite what made the job difficult, Chapman said there’s a lot he’ll miss – like the people, and the bond he’s made with friends at the department. Chapman said there is still no chance of him “pulling a Tom Brady” and coming out of retirement though so, after a 20-year career, that’s a wrap.
Chapman signed off one last time, gave a final goodbye, and was given one last ride out in a West Valley City Police patrol car in style.