DULUTH -- "Retirement" is probably not quite the right word, but, for the first time in 36 years, Lt. Bill Stevens is not serving Gwinnett County in a public safety capacity.
Stevens retired from the Duluth Police Department effective Wednesday, marking the end of a career that began with Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services in 1976. He'll still have plenty on this plate, but the longtime public servant has hung up the polyester.
"I didn't want to be an old man running out of the office to chase some bad guy down," Stevens said Thursday with a chuckle.
Stevens spent about 13 years working for both the fire department and Duluth police, retiring from the former in 2006. During his 19 years with the police force, Stevens is credited with starting the department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and the statewide Operation Drive Smart program for teens.
He was "really great" at helping the department get grants, Maj. Don Woodruff said, including the one that produced the office's mobile command unit.
Stevens, 57, is officially retiring but said he plans to remain on some committees.
"I'm not sure I'll totally stay away from public safety," he said. "But I'm not looking for a job right now by any means."
The main chunk of Stevens' time will now be donated to his biggest and proudest project -- Operation One Voice. A nonprofit aimed at helping the families of wounded and fallen military veterans, Operation One Voice officially became a nonprofit in 2006 and has helped hundreds since.
Stevens said the goal is to help expand the scope of the project and do more visitation with wounded vets at hospitals throughout the country.
"There are so many families that are in need," he said.