LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Longview Police Chief J.B. McCaleb's announcement that he is stepping down is taking a lot of East Texans by surprise.
When he was sworn in as police chief seven years ago, McCaleb made a promise to Longview.
"My greatest desire is that my efforts are successful and that I not let anyone down," he promised in 2003.
He began working for Longview PD in 1979 and now has over 30 years of service.
"Well, I have mixed emotions, I can tell you that," said Longview City Manager David Willard. "I could see it coming. J.B.'s had a long career in law enforcement."
"Well, actually I was totally surprised," said Ministerial Alliance and Bethel Temple Pastor Robert Evans.
He announced Thursday morning he will retire in January of 2011.
"He's probably the best police chief I've ever worked with," said Willard. "We're going to miss him very much."
Rising from the ranks McCaleb is well liked by his men as a blue collar chief.
"He started out at the very bottom," said Willard. "J.B. first and foremost has always been a man of integrity."
McCaleb took over the department in a period where violent crimes had gripped the city, and worked with anti-violence and church groups to address crime issues, even supporting peace marches.
"Regards of whether he remains or whether someone else comes in it still boils down to a community," said Willard. "Yes, we've made some progress...Unfortunately, we'll always have crime issues but J.B. has always dealt with it head-on."
But, for the city, his experience will be sorely missed.
"[He] knows law enforcement in and out, and you just don't replace that," said Willard.
Chief McCaleb says he made the announcement now to allow enough time for a smooth transition. Longview City Manager David Willard will organize the process of selecting a new chief for city council approval.