TAMPA (FOX 13) - After 40 years of serving the community, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee announced plans on Friday to hang up his badge in September.
His announcement came shortly after a media release from Attorney Pam Bondi's office, congratulating Gee on his retirement plans.
In a memo to sheriff's office employees, Gee wrote:
"This decision has not been made lightly and was one of the most difficult decisions that I have made in my career. Each of my sheriff's office family and the citizens of our community is very important to me. I have dedicated my life to serving others and hope that I have served well."
Gee, a Hillsborough County native, has held the post of Sheriff since 2004.
Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward was among many local leaders to call Gee on Friday and wish him well.
"He took me under his wings, and he kind of mentored me through this process. He got me through the learning phase of being a chief," said Ward. "You think you're ready until you sit in that seat. It's a huge responsibility, and when you have somebody like David that you can talk to it makes your job a lot easier."
Gee is well known for his quiet and steady leadership style. He has held leadership roles with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, DEA Task Force Officer and Gang Reduction Task Force, among others. Gee has volunteered his time with multiple organizations, including A Kids Place of Tampa Bay, the Judeo-Christian Health Clinic and the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.
"He completed what he set out to do and left the County Sheriff's Department in better shape than it was given to him. I'm going to miss him. He was a very dear friend of mine," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Buckhorn said often times HCSO and Tampa Police must work closely together to fight crime, and he can recall several occasions where Gee aided police in high-profile situations, such as the four-day manhunt for cop killer Dontae Morris and security for the Republican National Convention in 2012.
"We all have a season, and David knew to go out on the top of his game, as oppose to others who choose to
stay on too long," said Mayor Buckhorn.
Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Stacy White said his fondest memories of working with Gee will be outside of his role in law enforcement.
"Sheriff Gee is a conservationist, just like I am, and he really supports beautification of the community," said White.
White said together with Gee, he was able to get dozens of new trees planted behind a county-owned retention pond off Valrico Road in Valrico.
Gee's final day on the job will be September 30. Florida Governor Rick Scott will appoint a replacement to serve until the general election in 2018.
Full text of Attorney General Bondi's statement on Sheriff Gee's retirement announcement:
"For nearly four decades, Sheriff David Gee has served the citizens of Hillsborough County with humility, integrity and selflessness-sacrificing so much to protect the community we love. His dedication has earned him the reputation of being one of the hardest working, trustworthy and respected leaders in Florida. To this day, Sheriff Gee will still stop to assist a stranded motorist, or go out of his way help anyone in need. He is known for his soft-spoken, strong leadership and genuine compassion for the people he has sworn to protect. His career exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader. I am blessed to call Sheriff Gee one of my dearest friends and most trusted advisers. I so greatly admire the sacrifices both he and his wife, Rhonda, have made to ensure the safety and well-being of the people of Hillsborough County. His impact will last forever in our community."