Eric English was introduced as the Harrisonburg Police Department’s new chief of police Tuesday. English has served nearly 29 years in the Richmond Police Department and has been deputy chief of their support services department since 2011. HPD chose English from a pool of 85 applicants from across the country.
“You have an individual in myself, who’s come from Richmond with 29 years of experience on the job, and I’ve learned a lot from my years at the city of Richmond,” English said.
The search began after former Chief of Police Steve Monticelli stepped down in Dec. 2017. “During this process, Chief English demonstrated a strong leadership style, a passion for community policing, developing officers for advancement and collaborating with businesses as well as institutions of higher education,” Harrisonburg City Manager Eric Campbell said.
English is an experienced policeman, having been involved in patrol, narcotics, training and internal affairs during his time in Richmond. He’s also the president of the Central Virginia chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement. While he doesn’t officially take the position until Sept. 10, he’s committed to building relationships with the Harrisonburg community immediately, beginning by participating in the National Night Out on Aug. 7.
“Public safety takes the effort of everyone in order to have success,” English said. “I will be accessible to the community; I will make sure that you are able to get in contact with me. Like I said, you will see me out in public.”
English received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, majoring in criminal justice and psychology while also playing for the school’s basketball team. He attended VCU for his master’s in public administration. While English is excited to start the job, he understands concerns in both the community and police department.
“There’s always some anxiety about who’s going to be the next leader of your organization, so I understand that,” English said. “But I will tell you this: I am really eager to get started. I really felt comfortable when I came here... I ran into a lot of people when I came to visit the city and they really lived up to the nickname that y’all have, the friendly city.”
Despite the anxiety English is prepared for, Harrisonburg mayor Deanna Reed is confident in the job he’ll do. She believes English’s focus on community building will prove successful in Harrisonburg.
“We have a long history and deep tradition of Harrisonburg being a safe and welcoming community, Reed said. “I know Chief English will not only continue that legacy, but will lead our police department to new levels of success and service.”
While new to the area, English has experience managing large police operations. During his time in the operations division of the Richmond Police Department, he oversaw over 400 patrol officers spread over 4 precincts.
“Each day I come into work, my goal is to see if we can be better than the day before,” English said. “So to the men and women of the Harrisonburg police department, I am looking forward to working with each of you each and every day and continue to improve on a lot of the success we’ve already had.”
Contact Graham Schiltz at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.