A 24-year veteran of the Prince William County police Department is being honored for his longtime service. Officer John M. Lavely retired this month and received the department's outstanding career service award.

The honor recognizes officers and detectives who have served at least 20 years on the force. Supervisors aren't eligible to receive the award.

Lavely has served as a school resource officer for the past 13 years. He has largely worked in Gar-Field High School and Brentsville High School during that time, according to the police department.

Lavely has also worked as a patrol officer and canine officer.

Charles Deane, Prince William County police chief, called Lavely one of the department's "unofficial leaders."

Such officers "have chosen to spend their careers patrolling the street or investigating crimes even though they have long ago proven themselves capable of achieving rank," Deane said in a statement. "They are leaders by example, those to whom others go to for advice, who go the extra mile and who have earned the respect and admiration of both officers and supervisors alike."

During his career, Lavely has been a member of the National Association of School Resource Officers and received the police department's officer of the month award several times.

He has also been honored for work on gang prevention, drug issues and threats in schools, and has received letters from school employees thanking him for his work.

Lavely is the third person to receive the outstanding career service award, and the first to be selected since the honor was created in 2006.

That year, now-retired Officer Gary Bodmer and Detective Bryan Nevitt were awarded the honor. The police department doesn't name a recipient for the award every year.