Al Frederick calls it a journey more than 33 years in the making, after decades as a member of the Windsor Police Service, he'll retire at the end of January.

The chief announced his decision during a police board meeting Thursday. He'll leave the position on Jan. 31, 2018.

"I've had a great career," he said. "As an organization, I think we're extremely accountable, extremely good at what we do." 

Frederick said his proudest moments as chief happen every day, when the big organization gears up to serve the community.

He described policy changes brought about by other organizations or the government and then "thrust" upon the service as his biggest challenge as chief and reiterated his long-held stance that the legalization of marijuana will harm Canadians.

"It almost makes you reconsider, what is the point of policing if we've had these laws in place for so long and in the blink of an eye it's legal."

Mayor Drew Dilkens called Frederick a "very humble guy" and credited him with making the force more transparent and accountable than ever before.

"There's never been a time where he shied away from a confrontation head on," said the mayor. "There's been a great transformation inside the Windsor Police Service with his leadership. He will certainly be missed."

The board plans to begin a nation-wide search for a new chief immediately, according to Dilkens.

"We will cast the net wide and we will find the best candidate."

As for Frederick, he said he and his wife are planning to be more active and spend more time volunteering and enjoying the outdoors.

When asked if it was a difficult decision to step down he said his answer with a smile: "Not at all."