NORFOLK, Va. - After two high-profile shootings in Downtown Norfolk within a month, the city's top cop is hanging up his hat.
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone's last day in office will be April 8. He will then be on leave until April 29, when he will officially depart.
According to the City of Norfolk, Chief Boone started his law enforcement career with the Norfolk Police Department in 1989 and was appointed Chief of Police in 2016.
"The average chief of police has a tenure between four to six years," said former Norfolk Police Detective Richard James.
James, now a crime analyst, worked next to Boone for two decades.
"When Boone was hired as a recruit, I was already on the department," James said.
On Wednesday, Boone released this statement:
“After serving this community for over 30 years, I have decided the time is right to retire. My goal was to see the department through the pandemic and, as we begin to emerge, there is an opportunity for a change in leadership.”
In that time, Norfolk experienced the highest rate of violence in Hampton Roads — 129 murders, 17 this year so far. There's also been 35 shootings this year to date.
"The gun violence shootings into dwellings; shootings in general. It's going rampant in our city. We can't do that 200 officers short," said Mike Lynch, a forensics investigator with the department who's also part of the Norfolk Police Union.
Boone's leadership has come under scrutiny amid officer shortages. The force is 227 officers short as of Thursday, with 549 sworn officers currently on the force. Starting pay is $41,000 for a recruit and around $50,000 for a sworn officer.
"We have been telling him: Retention, retention, retention, for three years, and they are not concerned about it," Lynch said. "Has he done a lot for the community? Yes. Has he done a lot for the department? I would say no, that morale is low."
James suspects the force has mixed feelings.
"Firstly, there is a sense of uncertainty among officers in the department, and secondly, there is a sense of excitement," James said.
Deputy City Manager Mike Goldsmith will fill the role of interim chief.
The search for a new police chief is expected to take five months.