SUFFOLK, Va. - Chief Al Chandler Jr. was sworn in as Suffolk's chief of police on Friday, January 7.
Chandler has been with the department since 1999. He has worked with SWAT, worked as a crisis hostage negotiator and as a detective, been on uniformed patrol, worked with special operations and the honor guard.
Chandler said he wants to focus on technological advancements like cameras around the city and gunfire mapping programs.
“The citizenry of this country have spoken, and in their speaking, they decided, 'Hey, it’s not that we don’t want you to police; we want you to look at ways of doing it more safely, more effectively, more accurately,'” Chandler said.
He said he plans to hit violent crime from every angle, but said community involvement is important.
“We need our citizen partners to continue talking to us. We have more citizens that are trusting or agency more, our organization, and are beginning to provide us with more information as to who those actors are in our communities, and we’re able to act on that,” Chandler said.
He said they work with other local law enforcement to determine where the law violators are coming from. Chandler said often where the crime ends isn't from where it originates.
"We have to put more resources into the right places at the right times,” Chandler said.
As for community outreach, Chandler talked about the struggles of keeping programs going during COVID. He said both the Youth Public Safety Academy and the Citizens Police Academy had to be shut down during the pandemic. He said they plan to reopen those as soon as they can safely do so.
In the meantime, there are other options.
“Any community organization, if they want a police officer to come and speak to them, in reference to crime in their area or in reference to what’s going on in their neighborhood, we avail ourselves,” Chandler said.
Chandler said like everyone else, they are in need of more staff. He said they're looking for police officer applicants who have compassion and heart. If you're interested in working for the Suffolk Police Department, more information can be found here.
“We’re looking for the best of the best; the brightest of the bright; the diamonds in the rough," Chandler said. “I can teach you how to write a ticket; I can teach you how to make an arrest - I can’t teach you how to care for people.”
Chandler also said illegal guns are a problem in Suffolk. On Wednesday, January 12, there was an attempted carjacking that resulted in a shooting.
“It’s not okay for people to continue to buy illegal guns from people who shouldn’t have them, it’s not okay for guns to be stolen and not reported, and it’s not okay to protect people who are doing things that harm our communities,” Chandler said.
Regarding gang violence, Chandler said there is a gang issue not only in Suffolk, but everywhere.
"If you don’t have gangs in your area, they’ll steal a car and come to your area. We have a gang unit, and we have a gang unit for a reason,” Chandler said.