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Lynchburg names new police chief

October 1, 2015 | Virginia News

News Image The city announced in a news release Monday that Raul Miguel Diaz, currently assistant police chief in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will assume his duties Nov. 19.

Parks Snead will retire effective Oct. 1 and is expected to name Maj. Jerry Stocks as acting interim chief, according to City Manager Kimball Payne.

“I am confident that Raul is the very best person for the position,” Payne said in the release.

“He brings both experience and knowledge to the office and has demonstrated his leadership abilities throughout his career.

"His philosophies of community policing and building relationships within the department, the organization and most importantly, the community, were all critical to my decision to offer him the job.”

The annual chief’s salary in Lynchburg is $128,000, according to Payne.

Payne chose Diaz after an “extensive nationwide search” involving an initial pool of more than 50 applicants.

That pool was narrowed down to three people, who Payne said had hour-long meetings with about 30 community stakeholders including representatives from schools, neighborhood watch groups and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Payne said the group asked itself “‘Is community policing an overused word? What’s next in community policing?’ And [Diaz] talked about community building in all aspects of the community, and that just really impressed us.”

Diaz began his service in Fort Lauderdale in 1989 and held a variety of positions before he was promoted to assistant chief in 2013. He also has served as a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a job he described as similar to the television show “NCIS.”

“Working with people, working with the community; I’d probably have to say that’s the thing I enjoy the most,” Diaz said in a phone interview Monday.

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley said in a phone interview Monday that Diaz was a driving force in lowering the city’s crime rates through his work in a crime prevention and community outreach unit.

“He was the leader in coordinating those efforts in our police department … and I would say that definitely contributed to our success in reducing crime,” Adderley said.

The move north will be a drastic change in scenery for the 49-year-old, who will go from overseeing 200 detectives in Fort Lauderdale to about 170 officers in Lynchburg, according to the departments.

Diaz said he plans to address diversity among officers, who are primarily white males.

“I want us to be as diverse as the community we serve,” Diaz said.

He also acknowledged the difference in public record laws between Florida and Virginia, but was unsure exactly how that would play into the department’s transparency efforts.

“I come from a state and I come from a culture that if you ask me” for information, and it doesn’t hurt an ongoing investigation, “you’re entitled to it and we’re going to give it to you,” he said, adding he is unfamiliar with specific differences in the public records laws.

“I think that if the information that I have is going to build that trusting relationship in the community … I can release the info because it won’t hurt the integrity of an investigation,” Diaz said.

He declined to delve into his other goals or policies until he gets to know Lynchburg better.

“There’s some uniqueness to every community and I want to wait before I start talking about, ‘Well this is the way we did this over here,’ because it might not apply,” he said.

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