Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum doesn't know what it will be like getting up each day without something he has to do.
"It's going to be odd not to put this on everyday," he says, pointing to his uniform. After nearly 29 years with Tech Police and retirement just five days away, he's about to find out.
"The advice I've been given over the years is you'll know when it's right and it felt right," he said. "Things fell into place for me and it just felt like the right time to go."
Flinchum started here on patrol, working his way through the ranks until he became chief in 2006. But even after three decades, he says leaving is bittersweet. "Transitioning out, it's bittersweet. I've had a great career here. There are a lot of aspects that I really enjoy, some that I don't." Four months after becoming chief, Flinchum found himself leading the department through the April 16th tragedy. Four years later, the loss of one of his own officers in Deriek Crouse.
Colleagues credit Flinchum for his calm and leadership in their darkest days. "In police work, you develop a bond when you go through times of crisis or different things. Flinchum tells WSLS he'll never stop worrying about the men and women still here. "I'll miss them. I'll still worry about them. I'll still pray for them at night for their safety."
Flinchum announced his retirement in November, two weeks after the Virginia Supreme Court overturned a jury's finding that Virginia Tech officials failed to warn students after the first shooting on campus April 16th. The court's decision helped Flinchum reach his. "That was part of the factor," he said. "When the Supreme Court came back with their decision that was probably the last piece for me to feel that it was time to go, that that chapter had closed."
Ready to start a new chapter while keeping one thing the same.
Flinchum will stay in the area near his wife's family, his family and the community he loves. "I love this area, the community and especially after everything we've been through here the community support not only of the university but of me personally there's no reason to leave, this is my home." While he says he's ready to take some time and unwind, Flinchum says he'll eventually go back to work but not in law enforcement.
Chief Flinchum says he's heard soon to be retirees often say they'd miss the people the most. "People I work with, people around the university. At the end of the day, I think that's what you miss, the relationships you have with people," he explained.