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Salem Police Chief Michael Crawley Announces Retirement

Salem Police Chief Michael Crawley announced his retirement yesterday, effective June 1, 2024. Crawley has served Salem's citizens as a treasured member of the Police Department and the community for nearly 25 years.
Salem Police Chief Michael Crawley announced his retirement yesterday, effective June 1, 2024. Crawley has served Salem's citizens as a treasured member of the Police Department and the community for nearly 25 years.

“It has been an absolute honor to work alongside the many men and women who have served in the Salem Police Department,” Crawley said. “While the world has changed drastically in the past few decades the commitment to serve and protect our Salem community has remained strong.”

Crawley, 50, began working with the Salem Police Department in December 1999 as a Patrol Officer and was voted Officer of The Year by his peers just three years into his Salem law enforcement career. After completing field service as a Patrol Officer, he was promoted to the rank of Senior Police Officer and transferred to the Detective Division in 2004 where he was assigned to the Special Investigation Unit.  

“I truly need to thank the late Judge George Harris for seeing something in me many years ago and encouraging me to better myself through law enforcement,” Crawley said. “His encouragement helped me land my first position in Salem at a time when it was very difficult to get a job with the department.”Salem Police Chief Mike Crawley

“When Mike left his Sergeant's position in Vinton to take a patrol position in Salem, I thought he was crazy, but It turns out that he knew what he was doing,” said Kevin Boggess, former Salem City Manager and Vinton Town Manager. “He moved to a great community where he and his family have thrived, and he worked his way through the ranks to lead a department that he loves.” 

In 2006, Crawley was transferred to General Investigator, and he rose to the rank of Sergeant in that Division. He also served as the Services Division Sergeant and Patrol Division Sergeant before being appointed to the rank of Major by Chief Tim Guthrie in 2014. In January of 2016, he became Salem first Black Police Chief when Boggess named him Guthrie's successor.

“Throughout my life, there have been a number of people who have taken a chance on me and placed me in leadership roles,” he said. “Tim Guthrie and Kevin Boggess gave me this opportunity and I have tried not to let them or Salem's citizens down during my tenure as chief.”

Much of his time as Salem's top cop has been defined by several unique challenges that his predecessors never had to encounter. Policing during a pandemic, navigating a shrinking employment pool, and handling the backlash from national police events have all presented unique challenges.

“God placed me in this position at this time for a reason,” Crawley said. “There have been plenty of challenges along the way, but I believe we have met them head on and are truly better because of the adversity we had to overcome.” 

“The last decade since Ferguson, Missouri has been a very difficult stretch for police departments,” said Boggess. “Chief Crawley was fortunate to work in a very supportive community during this time, and Salem could not have asked for a better leader during these tumultuous times than Mike Crawley.” 

As a father of both graduates and current students in the Salem School Division, Crawley prioritized his department's presence inside each of Salem's six schools throughout his time as chief. 

“While some localities were debating the merits of resource officers in the schools, we never wavered in Salem,” he said. “In fact, we sacrificed other areas of policing when it was necessary to make sure our students and educators were safe. Citizens constantly thank me and our officers for having this type of positive relationship with the school division.”

Crawley is a Roanoke native and a 1991 graduate of Patrick Henry High School. He attended Virginia Western Community College and earned his bachelor's degree in management and leadership from Bluefield College. In 2018, he graduated from the F.B.I. National Academy as part of its 271st class. He also is a member of Shiloh Baptist Church, and he resides in Salem with his wife and children. 

“His ability to analyze public policy and societal changes in order to create real results for our community has been exceptional,” said Tom Bowers, Salem Commonwealth's Attorney. “I have learned so much from watching and working with him because he understands the true value of cultivating and maintaining relationships in order to be an effective leader. He is both a team builder and bridge builder, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

When Crawley took over as Chief, Salem was accredited by the state's professional standards commission. Now, the department is internationally accredited by CALEA – the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. It is considered the “gold standard” for public safety.

“I am extremely proud that we have been able to achieve these high standards and at the same time increase the overall diversity of personnel within the department on all levels,” Crawley said. “The Salem community has always been extremely supportive of our officers and made them feel appreciated.”

Salem City Manager Chris Dorsey plans to begin the process of hiring Salem's next Police Chief immediately.

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