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Sheriff’s Sgt. Van Buren Announces Retirement 7 Weeks After He’s Named Deputy of the Year

| February 4, 2016

michael van buren retirement flagler county sheriff's office

Sgt. Michael van Buren began his career with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in November 1987. (© FlaglerLive)

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.

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24 Responses for “Sheriff’s Sgt. Van Buren Announces Retirement 7 Weeks After He’s Named Deputy of the Year”

  1. Lt. Dan says:

    The trick they say is never play the GAME to long !!!

  2. Kendall says:

    Best wishes and many thanks to Sgt VanBuren.

  3. Rick says:

    This is a great article about the outstanding man, public servant, citizen, and friend that is Mike Vanburen.

    Every citizen of Flagler County, namely the voters should know that Mike struggled for a long time with this decision, to retire 2.5 years short of gaining his full retirement DROP benefit. It speaks volumes as to how bad it must be to work at the FCSO under Manfre.

    Mikey, you’ve earned my respect and gratitude by your relentless hard work ethic, your unabridged dedication to your community, your colleagues, and of course the sacrifices your family has made to allow you to put in 28 years of your blood, sweat, and tears. Beaker is proud of you, I am sure of that.

    Though, if it were me I don’t think I could have went out with such grace. In fact, I know I couldn’t have. I would have stood atop the tallest building holding a sign telling the community, reminding the community to honor your service by never, ever casting a vote for Jim Manfre ever again! Far too many honorable, dedicated and hard working men and women have either been run off, pushed out or punished by that little tyrant. I’m glad you made the end of your career 100% on your terms.

    God Speed brother!

  4. Citizen says:

    Jumping from the fire into the frying pan. You need a Dr if you think working for Landon will be any better than working for Manfre. With Carmen being protected by gaining employment with the city of PC after his run for Sheriff in 2008 I see the connection and understand your decision. What’s your pay going to be with the city–it is public record. Good luck!

  5. Joe says:

    Good for you and congratulations, always had respect for a man that stood up for what was right regardless of what the politics presented, you are a real man, thanks for your years of service!

  6. retired says:

    Thank you for all the fond memories Mikey. The honor of knowing you and working with you was all mine. Enjoy what time God has left for you focusing on your family. You’ve given enough to other families. Stay welly brother!

  7. David Malta says:

    Hello Flagler Live. I have not retired. I am still working for the sheriffs office. Please don’t send me off before my time is up.

  8. Bill McGuire says:

    Mike will be missed. He epitomizes what a law officer should be. I am proud to know him and call him friend.

  9. Layla says:

    Congratulations and the best of luck in your new endeavors.

  10. Roy says:

    Grady would be so proud of you. You stood your ground where others did not. And that means looking down the barrel of a gun and the nose of the Sheriff. Good luck to you, my friend.

  11. David Malta says:

    Thank you FlaglerLive for the quick correction to the earlier version.

  12. Brooks Brand says:

    Mike Wellcome to the land of retirement. Although God only knows why you would work for Public Works.
    Your 28 years of work is a great achievement. You should be very proud.

  13. Heading North says:

    First, congrats Mike – stay safe, enjoy the retirement, and ride up my way for coffee sometime!!!!
    It was a pleasure working with you, and an honor to call you my friend!

    Secondly, to FLive, do some research next time!!! Malta, Anderson, and Carman are NOT the only longest serving deputies left!!! I believe there’s a Corporal named Walters (as in James Robert) aka “Robbie” who is still working!

    If I’m correct, Corporal Walters began his career in 1985, which makes him the longest serving Deputy still actively working. Hell of a career, and hell of a friend!!!!

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Once again Heading North, you’re not correct. Cpl. Walters was hired at the Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 18, 1989. Hopefully your record-keeping on suspects is not as suspect as your research.

  14. confidential says:

    Always appreciative of the hazardous, risky job of our compassionate law enforcement officers like you Mr. Van Buren. Wish you some Happy and “Safe Trails!!

  15. Girl says:

    The best of luck to you, you deserve it… Those left know what the day to day dealings are..Shame that a good man must leave.. Time for you…

  16. KB63 says:

    Perhaps there is more here than meets the eye. Has he been forced to retire since he stated this on Flaglerlive:
    Michael Van Buren says:
    January 21, 2016 at 11:00 am
    Sheriff Jones! Not only do I like the sound of it! I can’t think of a better candidate. Godspeed Larry!

    Possibly a different Michael VanBuren? But if it is, he certainly can’t keep his job if he is rooting for another candidate! By all accounts, Mr. VanBuren is a great officer and like the loss of so many of our veteran officers this is a real shame. Have you heard the ad on the radio with Sheriff Manfre is looking for new recruits? Let’s get some more rookies in there!

    When Larry Jones is elected maybe he can bring some of the good guys back!

  17. jim says:

    Hey Mike, CONGRATS!!! you’ve earned it!! Live long and prosper!!! God Bless and Godspeed!!!

  18. James Walters says:

    Hello FlaglerLive:
    My name is James Walters I feel the need to clear something up for the record.
    I started my career with FCSO in June of 1985, left for 4 months and returned in January 1989. I have 30 years with FCSO and will retire May of 2016.
    I didn’t want to post here because it’s about Van Buren, not me.
    Good day, sir.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Because he is leaving one government agency and going to work for another (City of Palm Coast), won’t his retirement pick up (perhaps at a lower rate, but maybe not depending on what has been agreed upon) and carry forward so in 2 years or so this deputy can retire with full 30 year retirement? Isn’t this just considered a transfer more a less? Next questions, will this deputy come back and work in law enforcement after new administration takes over here in Flagler? I hope all works out well for Mike.

  20. Outsider says:

    Comgratulations, Mike and thanks for your service. While it doesn’t sound like this is in the cards, you would make a very good sheriff.

  21. Jones for sheriff says:

    Mike…thanks for your years of service. You were a great supervisor. Glad you will still be around. Don’t want to make this political but you are right. Jones will make an awesome Sheriff with the right men under him😉

  22. Denise Calderwood says:

    Hi Mikey

    You deserve to be happy and I am glad that you have said your peace. I know the decisions you made early on when you entered law enforcement and the struggles you went through so it is nice to end your great career on your terms but hopefully you can still make it to the mountains some day. And tell all the folks that public works and law enforcement are a close match- they are both responsible for making the streets safe!

  23. Lance says:

    Mike VanBuren has done a great service for our community. He has earned great respect of citizens and his peers through his service. He is a great example of a true and dedicated policeman serving the community he grew up in. We need more of this type of man in law enforcement. Thank you Mike VanBuren.

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