WAKEFIELD VALLEY — Two months into his retirement from the state police, Roy L. Chiavacci said he still reacts like a trooper.
"When there's an accident,I have to help," he said. "People need someone to take charge. They need guidance and assistance."
And, he adds with pride: "My example rubbed off on my three boys.They stop to help, too."
All those compassionate detours add up to tardiness. Anna Chiavacci long ago lost count of the times her family arrived at the wedding after the bride or followed the guest of honor into a surprise party.
They did make it to her husband's retirement dinner on time: no accidents along the route.
The 48-year-old former captain doesn't see getting involved as an inconvenience. Hecalls it a challenge. In his 26-year police career, he thrived on challenges, starting with his decision to join the force.
As a youthgrowing up in Baltimore County, he said, he was drawn to a career inlaw enforcement. At first, he considered the FBI, but a neighbor whojoined the state police helped change his mind.
"The state policeare sharp, professional and respected for what they say," he said. "They have a reputation as the elite within the state. If they stop you, that's it."
He decided to apply and test his mettle.
"I wanted to see if I could make it through the hoops," he said.
Now, nearly three decades later, after rising through the ranks to captain, he sits in a family room surrounded by police memorabilia. Numerous citations praising his work hang on the walls. He easily pulls memoriesfrom his experiences.
"There are some gruesome stories, but you don't dwell on those," he said. "You remember all the good people you worked with."
He said he misses those people, although he still hears from them.
"They call me from headquarters with questions," hesaid with a smile.
He developed various programs at the state police headquarters in Pikesville, but he also spent time "in the trenches," as a duty sergeant in the Glen Burnie barracks in Anne Arundel County and as commander of the Security barracks in Baltimore County.
Duty officers have the best of police worlds, he said. They have the excitement of responding to crime scenes, helping victims and gathering information. And, they can order another trooper to write the reports.
Chiavacci laughed as he recalled his stint as duty officer, calling those three years "the most fun" of his law enforcement career.
In addition to command posts, he worked in crime prevention, employee relations and recruitment programs and planned a memorial tofallen comrades.
In the early 1970s, he laid the foundation for the current recruitment program. Once that got off the ground, he and 1st Sgt. Larry E. Fairies, now stationed in Westminster, established a statewide crime-prevention program. Chiavacci was president of the International Society of Crime Prevention Practitioners and traveled extensively to promote the program.
His name and the program became synonymous. At his retirement dinner Feb. 21, Lt. Col. Frank Mazzone, retired deputy superintendent, introduced him as "Mr. Crime Prevention."
In 1989, at the request of the father of a deceased trooper, Chiavacci acted as chairman of the state police memorial committee.Largely through his efforts, a triangular granite memorial, paid forthrough donations, stands in the quadrangle at headquarters.
"Thededication was gratifying but so hard emotionally," said Anna.
Helater supervised capital improvements and employee relations, a position which prepared him for the career change to director of facilities management at Carroll Lutheran Village.
"This is almost too convenient, five minutes from home," he said. "I have never had the opportunity of working where I live."
He said he got a running start on his new position, as a volunteer on the village's long-range planning committee for three years.
"The residents are a great group of people," he said. "They have worked a lot of years to earn the care we are giving them."
More than 200 people attended Chiavacci's retirement party. Gifts ran from sentimental to whimsical. A shadowbox frame filled with career souvenirs -- "each item means something special to me" -- and a state police license plate, with the words "sorry no car attached," were among his favorites.
Many friends offered Chiavacci words of praise. He had a few tributes of his own to offer.
"I wanted to publicly thank Anna and our sons," he said. "I appreciate their support, understanding and compassion."
Taking a cue from those comments, the Maryland Troopers Association thanked Anna, too, with a dozen roses.
A motto, learned as a Boy Scout, has guided Chiavacci through his life, he said.
"Leave the place a little better than you found it," he said. "I like to believe that's how I leftthe state police."