Sheriff’s Sgt. Van Buren Announces Retirement 7 Weeks After He’s Named Deputy of the Year
FlaglerLive | February 4, 2016
Sgt. Michael van Buren had just ended one of his most decorated years since joining the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office 28 years ago. In October he was cited for bravery. Seven weeks ago he was named Deputy of the Year for the second time in his career, in large part for his role in saving a child’s life and preventing a woman’s suicide-by cop. Last Sunday he was among the nominees for the countywide Public Safety Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award, and when his colleague Mark Carman won it, he dedicated it to van Buren.
If he could coolly stare down the muzzle of a gun–as he did in that situation with the suicidal woman–he could equally take on his own superiors if he felt it necessary, as he occasionally did on behalf of his colleagues: he had his differences with Sheriff Jim Manfre, and he made them known, sometimes publicly. But in three decades on the force–he started on Nov. 18, 1987–he’d built his own credit and base of support among the ranks.
Thursday evening (Feb. 4), van Buren announced his retirement later this month from the sheriff’s office–and a $68,000-a-year salary.
He won’t go far: he’ll be taking a job in the public works department in Palm Coast government. The job will yield him a little less tress and more time with his family, he said, though he noted he also has time for yet another career, possibly in engineering.
“Many of you know that I have been debating about this for a long time, however I have finally decided to take the plunge and pull the plug,” van Buren wrote on his Facebook page. “It has been an ‘E-Ticket’ ride (for those of you that remember going to Disney in the 1970’s or early 80’s), and looking back I don’t regret my career choice.”
He described his experience as the equivalent of having 10 successive jobs, considering the various assignments and responsibilities he took on, from “Deputy, Field Training Officer, Shift Supervisor, Dive Team Member, Computer System Administrator, Project Manager on so, so many technology projects, and of course my favorite position, Motor Sergeant.”
Van Buren played key roles in bridging the department’s technological advances, most recently taking the lead in the program that resulted in every deputy having a body camera.
It didn’t take long for his announcement to radiate through the Facebook community: in less than an hour, more than 60 people had reacted–colleagues, first responders in other agencies, friends and family.
Van Buren had been one of just four deputies with that much seniority. Only three will be left after his departure: David Malta and Shirley Anderson, the deputy bailiffs, hired in September and February 1987, and Carman, the commander who heads the Palm Coast precinct. He was hired in July 1987. Malta is soon to retire. (An earlier version of this story had him incorrectly retired already.) The most senior employee at the sheriff’s office is a civilian, Wendee Hartman, the records supervisor. She was hired in January 1985.
Van Buren concluded: “To all my brothers and sisters still working, continue to watch out for one another, stay safe, and fight the good fight. Thank you for allowing me the honor of working alongside some of the finest officers in the State of Florida. Thank you all.”
Van Buren ended his post with the image of a countdown clock that showed his final day to be 14 days away.