Vancouver police chief Jim Chu will retire in spring 2015, once a successor has been found to lead the city’s force, he announced Friday.

Chu, who is a 36-year veteran of the force, leaves after seven-and-half years as VPD chief.

Still in his 50s, Chu told reporters on Friday that he has no plans for the future — beyond taking some time off to relax.

Though his name has regularly been mentioned as someone with potential for political office, Chu rebuffed the suggestion Friday, without completely ruling it out.

"I will not comment until my role as VPD chief is over," he said, noting that he plans to remain "focused and impartial" until he leaves the role.

Safer city

Under his tenure, Vancouver has become safer, and is closer to becoming Canada’s safest city, Chu said.

The department’s work on mental health is one of his proudest achievements, he said.

The 2010 Winter Olympics were also notable, particularly the way the VPD handled demonstrators who, he said, were looking for a battle.

"We didn’t give them what they wanted."

His decision to retire was, he said, partly to make room for a number of senior officers he felt would leave for other jurisdictions, without the possibility of promotion.

He also, he said, came to a realization just before Christmas that the time was right to leave.

"The whole month of December is really busy for a police chief," he said. "And, after my seventh December, I thought, 'That was pretty intense.'"

Finding a replacement

A Canada-wide search for Chu's replacement will be launched.

Calling the departing chief his "friend", Mayor Gregor Robertson proffered his "sincere gratitude and appreciation" for Chu's "incredible" work.

"He will be greatly missed," Robertson said. "We will miss his sense of humour...elaborate birthday messages, dispatch of tweets..."

Robertson said there will be consultation regarding the qualities the community is looking for in the next chief, noting that there are also candidates currently within the VPD to be considered.

As it happened: Read our earlier liveblog from the press conference