FOX 5 goes one-on-one with former Anne Arundel County police chief Timothy Altomare

It was a retirement that came as a surprise to many in Anne Arundel County when the police chief announced he was leaving after over 25 years in law enforcement.

The Capital Gazette Editorial Board called Timothy Altomare “perhaps the best chief this county has ever seen,” saying he retired when he was needed most.

READ MORE: Anne Arundel County police chief Timothy Altomare announces surprise retirement

“I got to a point where I thought I could do more good from outside than inside,” Altomare told FOX 5. “Of course I have angst about that. My challenge back to the county is, if you want and need a good police chief that much, they should’ve been vocal in supporting their police the last month or two.”

Altomare, who retired August 1, said what he plans to do now is defend his former profession. He said believes police are being unfairly vilified and stereotyped and cites a growing movement to take the “teeth out of policing” as the primary reason for his retirement.

He said there weren’t specific efforts in Anne Arundel County to do that and agreed some changes are needed.

“Absolutely, and we were making them,” he said. “It’s always incumbent on us as the people in uniform to be transparent, responsive and willing to dialogue. We were doing all those things.”

Altomare marched alongside Black Lives Matter protesters and says activists in the community have his phone number. But there were a few who had a real impact on his decision to retire.

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“I don’t do well with bullying and I had a few folks trying to bully me and say if I didn’t tow their line, they were going to start coming at me like you’ve seen in other parts of the country, and I wasnt going to have it,” said Altomare. “And, truthfully, I didn’t need to put up with it up. I’ve earned my retirement.“

When asked if it were not for those people if he wouldn’t stayed a few more years, he said that was a tough question.

“I was getting exhausted. Hit after hit after hit. I worked very hard to build my agency up after 2015 with Ferguson and Baltimore,” he said. “I worked very hard to keep us separate from the problems that arose with policing out of that. I was working hard trying to get us through this one, but at the end of the day what I get was a wall that said, 'Tim, it’s time for you to start using your voice,' and you can’t do that when you’re an appointed official who serves at the pleasure of an elected person.”

Right around the time of his retirement announcement, two Black men filed a lawsuit alleging they were arrested without cause by Anne Arundel County Police over a year ago. Video shows an officer kneeling on the neck of one of the men.

Altomare said he was not aware of the incident until the lawsuit was filed and that he suspended that officer immediately after seeing the video. He said the lawsuit did not factor into his retirement.