Mayor appoints Interim Chief William Smith to be next chief of Police Department
Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the appointment of Richmond Police Department Interim Chief William C. Smith to become the next chief of the department.
Chief Smith, 51, began his law enforcement career with RPD in 1995 and has risen through the ranks of the department over a 24-year career. Since January 1, he has served as Interim Chief of Department following the retirement of former RPD Chief Alfred Durham. Chief Smith is the 18th chief to lead the Richmond Police Department and is the first chief to be promoted internally since 1967.
“Chief Smith is thoughtful, detail-oriented, accountable, compassionate, and fair,” said Mayor Stoney, who announced the appointment at a press conference this afternoon at RPD headquarters.
“Over the last six months as interim chief, I believe he has demonstrated the dedication to duty, willingness to confront challenges head on, and commitment to serve the community that our city needs and our residents deserve. I believe he has what it takes to lead the men and women of RPD in a positive direction to protect and serve our community in the spirit of inclusivity and equity that are the foundation of One Richmond.”
After being introduced, Chief Smith said he was humbled and grateful for the support he has received from the city and the community.
“I would like to thank Mayor Levar Stoney and CAO Selena Cuffee-Glenn for their leadership of the city, their support of the Police Department and their faith in me,” said Chief Smith.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve this city in the capacity of Police Chief. I, likewise, am overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from the community and I am dedicated to providing the best service to all of Richmond.
“We are a transparent, community policing organization committed to developing relationships within the city we serve,” Chief Smith continued. “As Mayor Stoney frequently states, we are One Richmond.
The Mayor’s appointment follows an extensive national search and recruitment process that included, for the first time in recent memory, weeks of community engagement to provide public input into the selection process.
“The chief of police is one of the most important jobs in any city government, requiring skills that go well beyond policing itself,” said Mayor Stoney. “Community engagement is one of the core functions of policing in our city, so that is why it was important that we listened to our residents and prioritized the public input we received in our process. Our search for the best candidate led us back to our own backyard.”
Chief Smith was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1998, lieutenant in 2003, captain in 2007 and major in 2016. He was promoted to deputy chief in 2018.
Chief Smith has served the department in virtually every capacity during the course of his career, from Emergency Communications (2007-2009), to commander of the Third Precinct (2009-2011), to running the Special Operations Division (2011-2016), to the Business Services Division (2016-2017) and serving as chief of staff (2018).
“Chief Smith knows this department inside and out – and he knows and respects the Richmond community he has served for nearly a quarter of a century,” the mayor said.
Says CAO Selena Cuffee-Glenn: “Accountability is critical to this community, and this is an essential quality that Chief Smith brings to the job.”
Officials, former chiefs and community leaders react
Chief Smith’s appointment garnered praise from city officials, community leaders and former chiefs of the Richmond Police Department.
City Council President Dr. Cynthia Newbille: " I have appreciated the opportunity to work with Interim Chief Smith over the past 6 months. He has proven to be committed, collaborative and community-oriented, and I look forward to continue to work with him going forward."
Community leader Melvin Jones: “Chief Will is a fair, upstanding man who knows this city. He has risen through the ranks of the police department, and the officers and community members I’ve talked to believe in his ability to lead.”
Paul Taylor, of RVA League for Safer Streets: “The fact that Mayor Stoney promoted from the inside of the Richmond Police Department shows his understanding of what the city needs. Chief Smith knows our community from his years of experience. This is inclusiveness at its best, and it is testimony to the Mayor’s commitment to building One Richmond.”
Carver Civic Association President Jerome Legions: “With Chief Smith, Richmond will have at the helm someone who doesn’t have to learn about the city, but someone who can build on enhancing communities and RPD’s efforts in building stronger community relationships. That William Smith has been appointed as the next chief of police of RPD is exciting news.”
Richmond Region Tourism President Jack Berry: "I have gotten to know Chief Smith well over the past five years because of our work on the UCI bike race. Throughout that time, I've come to appreciate his organizational capacity and professionalism. He'll make a great chief for this city."
Former Richmond Police Chief Rodney Monroe said Smith knows his department and will serve the community with compassion and honor.
“Richmond has chosen a great man as its next chief of police. He’s a professional who cares deeply about all citizens of Richmond and the men and women of the department.”
Former Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham also praised Chief Smith, saying:
“Chief Smith embodies the core values and leadership attributes that are needed by both the department and community. He is a career employee who is a respected leader and has in-depth of knowledge about the operations of department. He understands the importance of relationships with his employees and local and state partners. More importantly, he understands that being connected to the community is what cultivates trust and legitimizes a police department.”
Chief Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is also a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership School at the University of Richmond, as well as the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston.
A date for a formal swearing-in ceremony will be scheduled in the near future.