Almost 40 years ago the young guy from Pittsburgh, PA came to the Washington, D.C. area to become a finger printing technician with the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
He did that for about two years and had hopes of being a special agent that didn’t work out, but Harry Reitze always wanted to do be in law enforcement. Now, 37 years after joining the City of Falls Church Police Department, the now chief of police is retiring.
“I’m 64 years old and it’s time to start a new chapter,” Reitze said. “Time to just slow down a bit.”
Reitze announced last week that he is retiring in November. The chief joined the police force in 1975 as a patrolman and became a captain in 1998, overseeing the department’s services and operations divisions. Reitze was appointed chief of the department in May of 2007. Reitze is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, 193rd Session and the Professional Executive Leadership School, 8th Session.
The Western Pennsylvania native is still well connected to his roots and prefers a homemade pierogi to the famous Primanti Brothers sandwiches. A corner of his office is dedicated to his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers with black and gold memorabilia. He doesn’t follow his hometown Pirates as much as he used to but still has stories from his youth when $5 would get him to the stadium and back and pay for food. His highlight of making it into the outfield bleachers, yelling out to Roberto Clemente only to see him tip his hat back at him.
That new chapter he is looking forward to starts Nov. 11 for Reitze. There are no elaborate plans, no vacations, no parties, nothing. For Reitze, it’s all about relaxing for the first time in years.
“I don’t know what it’s like to wake up and not do anything,” Reitze said. “I’m in no hurry to do anything.”
With Thanksgiving peeking it’s head around the corner, Reitze said he may have extra time on his hands but he won’t be offering any culinary contributions to the family dinner. The veteran law enforcement agent said it’s best he not contribute for the family’s sake.
“I know how not to become an emergency so I’ll let my wife do the cooking,” he joked.
Since he was 12, Reitze has always worked be it in the supermarket down the street or the one of the coalmines in the Pennsylvania hillsides. He said his family was borderline middle class so everyone had to pitch in.
It’s the pitching in that he will miss coming to work everyday. His office door remains open just so his officers know they can always come to him about anything.
“When you can here them laughing and joking, you know things are good,” Reitze said.
The holiday cheer he enjoyed as a patrolman in the city has remained and is one of the many things he said he would miss. He won’t be retiring to Pennsylvania, instead he and his wife will remain in their home near Winchester where they can still hit the roads to their favorite antique shops. For Reitze, Virginia is his home.
“I could have gone other places but I stayed,” Reitze said. “My life isn’t there in Pittsburgh. My life is here.”