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Portsmouth police chief retiring after six years with department

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jun 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-29 19:05:46-04

Portsmouth, Va. - After six and a half years, Portsmouth's top cop is leaving the department.

Chief Ed Hargis is retiring Tuesday, June 30.

NewsChannel 3 spoke with him Monday about his time as chief.

"It's been eventful along the way.  There's always something to deal with here in Portsmouth," Hargis said.

He's had some tough situations to handle, especially recently.

In a time when tensions are already high between police and the community, his department had two separate incidents in the past few months in which officers shot and killed suspects.

Criminal and internal investigations are still taking place, but as for how he's handled them, Chief Hargis says he did what he could to maintain trust and keep people informed.

He handed the criminal investigations over to state police and has worked to improve transparency with the community since he first took over as chief.

"Any community event that we had the opportunity to go out and talk to people, we would go out and talk to them, and our redesign of our web page, and using twitter and all the other social media that we have out there, we're trying to become that transparent organization that people know we're going to report out what's occurred," said Hargis.

He says his biggest accomplishment, though, has been reducing crime.

"We reduced violent crime by 24 percent, we've cut robberies in half, we just had, in 2013 was the lowest homicide rate in probably about 20 years; there's been a lot of accomplishments," said Hargis.

He also ordered body cameras for the entire department.  They came in Friday and are expected to start being used in late Summer or early Fall.

So why leave now?

Hargis says the decision was made last year because of his family.

They stayed behind in New Jersey when he took over as chief.  Hargis says that takes a toll after six years.

Dennis Mook will be taking over as interim police chief.  He previously served as police chief in Portsmouth from 1994 to 1997, then became chief in Newport News until 2004.

Hargis says he's not sure what's next for him; possibly another job in law enforcement, but says he's confident with how he's leaving his department.

"The hope is always that you leave it better than you found it, and I think I've done that," said Hargis.

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Portsmouth police chief retiring after six years with department

Former Portsmouth, Newport News Police Chief named as Interim Chief for Portsmouth