‘We allowed (Chief Durham) to slip away because we didn’t support him’

GLENWOOD W. BURLEY | 11/21/2018, 6 a.m.
Re “ ‘I’m done:’ Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham announces his last day on the force will be Dec. 31,’ ...

Re “ ‘I’m done:’ Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham announces his last day on the force will be Dec. 31,’ ” Free Press Nov. 15-17 edition:

My compliments to Free Press writer Jeremy Lazarus for his excellent article on Chief Alfred Durham. There is no secret I proclaim the highest admiration for Chief Durham.

So, how did the Richmond community play a role in his decision to retire?

We took him for granted, not appreciating the depth and capacity of his devotion, care and commitment to the people.

We have lost the finest chief ever to command our Police Department. We allowed him to slip away because we collectively didn’t support and praise him.

I am quite frankly upset that City Councilwoman Reva Trammell was publicly quoted saying, in part, that Chief Durham was insignificant in our city — that he was “just the chief” and not out on the front lines with the officers. Her statement was elementary, shallow and hurtful.

On many Saturdays, and some Sundays after he went to church, you would find Chief Durham at his desk — the only employee in the entire Police Headquarters — trying to catch up on paperwork in the silence, nibbling on a three-inch cigar.

The last four years of enhancements of the Police Department, and its more efficient operations that are reflected in the officers working the streets, are specifically credited to Chief Durham.

The chief is ever-present throughout this city, flying a flag of positive public relations. His office was the streets and the projects that were rampant, at times, with violence. His presence ushered calm, reassurance to all fearful of when and where the next bullets would strike down another child.  

Most citizens and public officials have no comprehension of the qualities that lie within Chief Durham’s heart. I do. 

A Marine, the chief, who wore his uniform with immaculate neatness, had a trait of compassion. As he retired to rest at night, the darkness knew his thoughts and hopes for another homicide-free night. Chief Durham also was passionate for the morale and safety of his officers.

Councilwoman Trammell owes Chief Durham a public apology.

City residents should write to Chief Durham, share their appreciation, wish him good health and tell him what a good chief he has been for this great city.



The writer is a retired Richmond Police Department patrolman.