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Farewell to the chief: Lynchburg bids Snead goodbye

October 1, 2015 | Virginia News

News Image Community leaders from far and wide came together Tuesday afternoon to honor Lynchburg Police Chief Parks Snead as he enters the newest chapter of his 31-year career: retirement.

Guests mingled and chatted with one another over light refreshments at the Lynchburg City Schools Information Technology Center. Someone – no one would say who -- had found some of Snead’s old high school pictures and made a “Happy Retirement” banner to hang in the back of the room.

“…I understood there’s probably no more important decision that a city manager makes than choosing the person to lead the police department in a community like Lynchburg,” City Manager Kimball Payne said. “I think recently I made a good decision, but I know I made a great decision eight years ago when I asked Parks to be the chief of police for the city of Lynchburg.”

Snead was appointed chief in 2008 and officially retires on Thursday. Raul M. Diaz, the current assistant chief of police for the city of Fort Lauderdale, will take over Snead’s position Nov. 19, Payne announced this week.

“It has just been wonderful over the last number of years to see [Snead] be the face of the police department to city council,” Mayor Michael Gillette said. “…You have certainly put this community at ease at times where we might not have been as at ease and even when we’re not at ease you have been there as a comforting leadership figure. We just appreciate that tremendously.”

Payne and Gillette were only two of the many speakers at the event. Other speakers included Lynchburg Branch NAACP President Gerald Cheatham, Maj. Todd Swisher, Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Doucette and former Lynchburg Police Capt. Brandon Zuidema.

“Having become a chief, you gain a different perspective on things,” Zuidema said, who is now police chief of Garner, North Carolina. “I now understand a little bit better some of things [Snead] did or didn’t do.”

Zuidema also thanked Snead’s family for supporting him and sharing him with the department over the years. At the end, Zuidema said that Snead was not only a great chief, but a great person.

“I learned a lot from you,” Zuidema said. “And I use a lot of it every day in what I do. And I’m proud to have worked with you and to call you a mentor and a friend…”

Throughout the presentation, Snead was presented with plaques, an engraved pocket knife, a new retired chief police badge and a shadow box showing his ranks throughout his career in Lynchburg.

Afterwards, Snead said being a police chief is an amazing opportunity to help and see Lynchburg change for the better.

“It’s a great position to watch the community grow,” Snead said. “What’s better than watching something grow?"

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