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Police Chief Mary Gavin Announces Retirement

Announced via news release by the City of Falls Church Office of Communication

The retirement of F.C. Police Chief Mary Gavin, effective January 6, 2024, was announced in a news release Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: City of Falls Church)

Wednesday, September 6, 2023 — City of Falls Church Police Chief Mary Gavin announced she will retire on January 6, 2024, after 16 years of service to the City of Falls Church.

This is a bittersweet announcement for me to make,” said Chief Gavin. “I have been abundantly blessed to serve as a police officer for the City of Falls Church, alongside a dedicated team of public servants. It’s been an incredible chapter in my life. But, I will leave with a sense of pride knowing the City of Falls Church Police Department will continue to hold the highest measure of respect and restraint for the authority bestowed upon them by the community we swear to serve and protect.”

Chief Gavin was sworn in as a Major in December 2007, serving as the Deputy Chief of Police before her appointment as Chief of Police in 2012. During her tenure, the City of Falls Church Police Department was an early adopter and advocate of the community policing principles defined by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing initiative in 2015. Under her leadership, the department was the first local public safety agency to partner with the Center for Youth and Family Advocacy (CYFA) to further restorative justice practices and resources within the department and community. Finally, with the input and collaboration of an engaged community, her Public Safety team has enthusiastically responded to calls for enhanced transparency about the City of Falls Church’s use of force tactics and policies as defined by the City’s Use of Force Review Committee, and have accomplished the majority of recommendations outlined in their report – including Body Worn Camera adoption, General Order manual revisions, and ensuring all officers are trained in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) principles and practices.

“The City of Falls Church has been so fortunate to have Mary Gavin as its Chief of Police over the past 11 years,” said City Manager Wyatt Shields. “Mary believes deeply in the public service mission and by steadfastly acting on these values, she earned the support of our police officers and the trust of the community. Being Chief of Police is a very difficult job, and particularly so right now. She is, in my view, the best in the country. When she retires in January, she will be leaving a strong department with excellent men and women who will carry on the values she helped instill here. That is a legacy that will serve the public well.”

In addition to her duties as Chief of Police, Chief Gavin has played an active leadership role in several regional, national, and international law enforcement groups and associations, including: seven years as a member of Board of Directors for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); nine years as Chairperson for both the Executive Board for the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy (NVCJTA) and Northern Virginia Regional Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association; and, nine years on the Board of the Arlington/Falls Church Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) and active member of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) for Northern Virginia.

Prior to joining the City of Falls Church Police Department in 2007, Chief Gavin served the Arlington County Police Department for 22 years where she worked as a patrol officer, School Resource Officer, and Commander of Patrol Districts and the Vice/Narcotics Division. She earned her Master’s in Homeland Security from Eastern Kentucky University and has participated in several advanced law enforcement educational programs, including the Professional Executive Leadership School with the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Washington Council of Governments’ (COG) Institute for Regional Excellence. Chief Gavin also serves as an Adjunct Professor at American University, where she teaches a graduate level seminar on law enforcement. 

The City of Falls Church will launch a recruitment process for a new Chief of Police this autumn.