Town of Richlands appoints new police chief

Chief Jerry Gilbert was appointed to his new post July 10 during a meeting of the Richlands Town Council. 
By GREG JORDAN | Bluefield Daily Telegraph
RICHLANDS, Va. — Officers with the Richlands Police Department use the tools of modern law enforcement, but their new chief is urging them to walk among the city's residents, talk to them, and let them know the police are there to protect and serve.

Chief Jerry Gilbert was appointed to his new post July 10 during a meeting of the Richlands Town Council. 

“I've been with Richlands since 2001,” Gilbert recalled. “Before I took the chief's position, I was sergeant of investigations. I started my career in March of ‘87. I worked for the town of Cedar Bluff until October 2001, and then I came here and I started as the code enforcement officer. I think I did that for about five years, and then from there I was promoted to uniformed criminal investigator. I think it was in December 2010 when I was promoted to sergeant of investigation. I was over the investigative division.”

When Gilbert was asked about why he chose a career in law enforcement, he replied that it seems like he was drawn into the profession.

“I got a degree from Southwest Virginia Community College in data processing,” Gilbert said. “While I was in that, I started picking up some law enforcement classes. I got to where I liked it; and then at that time I was working for Roses Department Store where a lot of the guys, Richlands Police Department guys, came in and I made friends with those guys.”

Some of the officers worked in security for Roses, and Gilbert started talking to them about their careers. He started hanging out with them and even seeing them on duty.

“I did a few ride alongs with them and from that point I was hooked,” he said. “Sometimes, there are those of us in life who are meant to do law enforcement. There was always that pull. I like being active in the community and I like doing community things like the White Christmas for children, the neighborhood watch, and teaching boating safety for the Virginia Game Commission. I'm a volunteer instructor for them.”

Gilbert said that he has always been very active in the community, and he wanted his style of law enforcement to be the same. He described this style as “old-school law enforcement” in which officers go out and regularly talk with the town's people. 

“I want people to know we're there for them,” he stated. “We're doing foot patrols and doing what we call Walkabout Wednesday. We're taking photos and posting them on Facebook. It's just part of us being in law enforcement, getting into the community, engaging with the community, seeing what their needs are and interacting with them. My guys, they're doing more patrolling in the neighborhoods. Hopefully, when they see somebody out doing yard work, they will stop and talk to them.”

Gilbert said he wanted people to know that they can come to their local police if there is a problem.

“I want them to know us by first name. I want folks to know if they've got issues or problems, they know us and can come talk to us. I want them to know that we're accessible, that we're there to serve them. I want them to feel that. I want them to feel relaxed and to come talk to us.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at

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