NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone will retire in April, according to City Manager Chip Filer.
Boone's last day in office will be April 8. He will then be on leave until April 29, when he will officially depart.
Deputy Chief City Manager Mike Goldsmith, who was the city’s police chief before Boone, will serve as interim chief.
“After serving this community for over 30 years, I have decided the time is right to retire,” Boone said in a statement. “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.”
Filer made the blunt and surprising announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Filer said he had a regularly scheduled meeting with Chief Boone earlier in the day to talk about police retention, recruitment and the city’s surge in violent crime. When the meeting ended, Filer said that’s when the chief let him know he’s retiring.
He praised Boone for his storied career but stopped short explaining why he’s leaving.
“He implemented much needed change both within the department and within the communities,” said Filer. “I wish him the best as he moves into the next chapter.”
The announcement came as a surprise to Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander. He said he was practicing his State of the City address when he got the call.
“I’m always in awe with how he connects with people in the community,” Alexander said. “He’s an amazing person.”
The timing of Boone’s departure is not the best. It comes as the city faces a surge in violence, including a deadly shooting at MacArthur Center Mall over the weekend and a mass shooting on Granby Street last month. The department also faces a shortage of more than 200 officers.
Mike Lynch, a detective and forensics investigator with the police department, said morale is low, adding Boone didn’t do enough to retain officers.
News 3 asked Lynch if he though Chief Boone made the right choice to retire. He responded, “It’s going to be another hard question to answer.”
News 3 followed up with another question. “Are you sad to see him go?” Reporter Antoinette DelBel said.
“I’m not sad to see him go, no,” Lynch said. “Could it have been on better terms, or could he have notified us first? Yes.”
DelBel asked, “Do you think he did enough for the city to crack down on crime?”
“No; my honest opinion is no,” said Lynch. “As far as the retention of officers, he had no plan for retention.”
News 3 asked the mayor the same question.
“I think there’s a lot of work to do,” Alexander said. “I think more needs to be done and I look forward to working with all stakeholders.”
Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney Ramin Fatehi released a statement via Twitter thanking Boone for his service.
"Thank you, @NorfolkPD Chief Larry Boone, for 33 years of service to @NorfolkVA. I am grateful for Chief Boone’s far-sighted efforts to build trust between the Department and our community," Fatehi tweeted. "History bore out Chief Boone’s vision when, during the civil-rights marches of 2020, Norfolk saw peaceful protest while other cities burned. I am also grateful for Chief Boone’s work to stop and track the flow of illegal guns. His efforts are an important part of his legacy.
"Chief Boone has had one of the hardest law-enforcement jobs in Virginia, and he has done his best. I commend him for his efforts, and I wish him well."
Chesapeake Police Chief Kelvin Wright released a statement wishing Boone well, saying, "Chief Boone is an innovative and courageous leader in Law enforcement who has had a distinguished career. His work to track and trace the illegal selling of and use of illegal firearms was ground breaking work in our profession and has caused a shift in fundamental thinking and our approach to combat gun violence. We wish him well in his future endeavors."
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.
During his career, he has served in the Canine Unit, Gang Suppression Unit, Metro-Tactical Unit, The Office of Professional Standards and the Patrol Division, the city website said.
Under his leadership, the Office of Community Relations was created and enhancements to available programs and local partnerships have seen a direct impact on Norfolk’s community engagements.
More than 20 community outreach initiatives and the department’s signature programs (Cops and Curls, Cops and Kids Eating (CAKE), Police Leadership Unveils Success (PLUS), and Clergy Patrol) have been nationally recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
The City will begin the search for a new Chief of Police immediately. The search is expected to take five months.