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Leesburg Police Chief Price to retire in March

January 7, 2016 | Virginia News

News Image by Crystal Owens | Loudoun Times-Mirror

It's not the high-profile national media attention cases Leesburg Chief of Police Joseph Price worked in his 16 years as the town's law enforcement leader that will stick with him once he retires March 1.

It's the “small day-to-day cases” that make a difference in so many lives. He uses the recent arrests of two individuals connected with last month's armed robberies at two Leesburg hotels as an example of shoe leather police work.

“Our detectives did a great job on it, but the real break came when one of our officers handled a shoplifting case. He did a thorough enough job and obtained the surveillance video. Detectives were able to look back through the files and arrest them,” he said.

There's no difference, the chief says, in the work an officer does on the humdrum cases to a high-profile murder case.

“The vast majority of the time our officers do the same level of high-quality work on small mundane cases that's done on the highly-publicized or the high price cases,” he said.

Despite his humility, under Price's leadership, the department played an integral role in the capture of Elias Abuelazam, 38, as he was boarding a flight in Atlanta bound for Tel Aviv, Israel after he stabbed three people in Leesburg in spring 2010. Abuelazam is now serving life in prison for murder in Michigan. He was also charged with two other murders and six cases of assault with intent to murder for attacks in the Flint, Mich. area and accused of stabbing a church custodian in Toledo, Ohio.

Price has led the Leesburg Police Department since March 1, 2000. During his tenure, the town’s population nearly doubled, from 28,000 to 50,000, and the police department grew from 58 sworn officers to 87.

Under Price, the Leesburg Police Department was accredited by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services for the first time in 2006 and achieved reaccreditation in 2010 and 2014. Most recently, the Leesburg Police Department received the 2015 Webber-Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Motorola. This annual award recognizes agencies that have implemented innovative projects focused on enhancing quality in law enforcement. The Leesburg Police Department was recognized for its Organized Retail Crime Initiative. In addition, the department received Community Policing Awards from the IACP in 2014 and 2006.

Prior to joining the Leesburg Police Department, Price was with the Montgomery County Maryland Police Department for 25 years. While serving with Montgomery County, he held a variety of ranks and positions including training commander, operations officer, district commander and bureau chief.

Price holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Scranton and an MBA from the American University in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and Police Executive Research Forum’s (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Police. He is the current chair of the Northern Virginia Chiefs and Sheriffs Group, former chair of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force and a member of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“Chief Price’s retirement announcement is a bittersweet moment for the Town of Leesburg and myself,” said Leesburg Town Manager Kaj Dentler in a prepared statement. “I am very happy for him to be able to retire after such a successful 40-year career in law enforcement including 16 years as Chief of Police for the Town of Leesburg. Chief Price has faithfully served and protected the Town in his role while being recognized both nationally and regionally. His leadership and guidance transitioned our police department to the professional organization that it is today with a philosophical focus on being a guardian of our community versus just a warrior mentality ...”

In addition to his law enforcement career, Price had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He's an active member of the Rotary Club of Leesburg. He and his wife, Lori, currently live in Leesburg and have three children and three grandchildren.

It's those three grandchildren that will take up some of his retirement time.

“I think the family time will certainly be important. I have three very young grandchildren who I'm their best buddy at this point,” Price said.

But don't count the chief out of helping to catch criminals just yet. Price said he and some friends intend on providing public safety training consultations.

“I want to continue to contribute,” Price said.

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