Alexandria Police Chief Steps Down

Chief Baker submits letter of retirement to town manager

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Alexandria's chief of police is retiring following his drunken driving arrest over the weekend.

Chief David Baker sent the following letter to members of the department Tuesday:

My Friends,

It is with a great deal of humility and remorse that I announce my retirement from the Alexandria Police Department, effective immediately. Words cannot describe the pride I feel having had the opportunity to lead such a great department. You have much to be proud of. Your standing in the community, the region, and the country is unparralled, and you are and will continue to be respected for your professionalism, innovation, and dedication to the citizens you serve.

Thank for allowing me the privilege of serving with you. I could not have asked for a better, more capable, or more compassionate group of public safety professionals to work with. As I leave the department in your most capable hands, I wish all of you health and happiness in both your personal and professional lives, and pray that you forever remain safe and secure.

Yours sincerely and respectfully,

Dave Baker

His retirement is effective Friday.

Earlier, Baker's attorney had said his client did not intend to resign.

"Dave agonized over his decision and he concluded that he could either do what's perhaps in his best interests and try to retain his job or do what's in the best interests of the city and step aside, and he chose the latter, which is pretty much what you'd expect from Dave if you know him," Clark said.

Arlington County police arrested Baker Saturday night after he was involved in a car crash and registered a blood alcohol level of 0.19 percent. The point at which one is considered "legally drunk" in Virginia is 0.08 percent.

Baker, 58, was driving an unmarked City of Alexandria car and crashed near the intersection of Interstate 66 and North Fairfax Drive at about 11 p.m. Saturday. The driver of the other car suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a local hospital.

Baker was placed on paid leave, and Alexandria Executive Deputy Chief of Police Earl Cook was made acting chief of police.

"I want to assure the residents of Alexandria that this is only a change in leadership and not direction," Cook said.

City officials accepted Baker's resignation with sadness but said it helps them move on from the incident.

"We hope that this unfortunate incident will not eclipse the stellar service and commitment that he has shown to the city of Alexandria during his years of service," said Mayor William Euille. "Regretfully, this is a wise decision to allow the police department and the city to move forward."

"I know it wasn't easy for him, but at the end of the day it's what he and his family decided was best for them, and I know the chief wanted what's best for the police department," said Mike Kochis, the Alexandria police union president.

City leaders said getting behind the wheel after drinking was out of character for Baker, who until now had an unblemished record as Alexandria's top cop.

Baker's DUI court hearing has been postponed from Wednesday until mid-August.

His police career began in September of 1970 when he joined the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department.

After he retired from the D.C. force as a captain assigned to the special operations division in February 1991, he was chosen to fill a vacant deputy chief position in the Alexandria Police Department.  He became chief of police in September 2006.

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