NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — One week later and some community members continue to process the news of Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone’s retirement.
The announcement came as a surprise for many of those who spoke to 10 On Your Side, a surprise that made them question the motives behind his departure.
Bilal Muhammad from the Stop the Violence Team worked with Boone at a number of vigils and community forums.
He says he’s grateful for the lessons Boone taught him and his team, mainly, how to be more compassionate.
“When I heard about it, I’m glad I had a handkerchief with me. I had to wipe away a few tears,” said Muhammad. “He wants to make a difference. He tries to make a difference. He did make a difference. And that’s very important for the City of Norfolk. Chief Boone made a difference.”
Data from last week’s State of the City Address details how reported incidents have decreased since 2016 by 24% and overall reported incidents in 2022 continue to trend downward.
Firearms-related homicides saw a steady decline until 2020, when the pandemic, civil unrest and officer shortages first began.
A number of other community initiatives — including youth engagement, senior citizen assistance, and ATF partnerships — were introduced or continued under Boone’s tenure.
Rodney Jordan is a school board member and is connected to a number of community initiatives. He says he was shocked to learn of Boone’s retirement and says residents need to have a seat at the table for discussions for the next chief.
“I was shocked and disappointed and confused and angry,” he said. “All this boils down to citizens being willing to hold the police department accountable, and hold ourselves accountable, and now I think we have to make sure that we hold our city manager accountable and hold our council accountable.”
He remembers when then-Chief Boone and his leadership went door-to-door meeting with residents.
“Chief and his chiefs and lieutenants and others coming out and going door to door with residents, doing surveys, actually talking to residents and listening and hearing from residents how they were performing,” he said.
Jordan and other community members suggest Boone’s push for greater community engagement and transparency could have been his downfall.
“Individuals who perform and do well and build up a cache of support get chewed up in a cloak and dagger governance that I think we too often have in our city,” said Jordan.
Some business owners in the Neon District recently spoke to 10 On Your Side’s Jon Dowding expressing their support for the change in leadership at the department.
This stems from the recent uptick in the violence plaguing Granby Street.