It’s official: Police Chief Bryan Norwood is gone.
Mayor Dwight Jones announced Tuesday that the former top police chief has resigned, calling it a “mutually agreed upon change of leadership” and ending weeks of speculation.
Jones has named as Norwood’s replacement Ray Tarasovic, who served as an assistant police chief under a former Richmond chief, Rodney Monroe.
Tarasovic, who recently worked as part-time program manager for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, takes over as the new chief Wednesday.
Norwood’s ouster comes as no surprise. Since Jones became mayor in 2009, there’s been speculation that the police chief’s days were numbered. Appointed by former Mayor L. Douglas Wilder in late 2008, Norwood’s relationship with Jones has been chilly ever since. For the more interesting theories, click here.
Perhaps today’s bigger shock is that Jones decided to hire outside the department -- and the Richmond region -- even though several nearby chiefs had recently served with the city’s police department, including John Venuti, chief of police at Virginia Commonwealth University, David McCoy, the University of Richmond’s police chief; and Petersburg Police Chief John Dixon.
Jones also selected Tarasovic, the city’s first white police chief since Frank S. Duling retired in 1989, without anything resembling a public hearing.
Jones was unapologetic.
“I think there are many ways that it can be done. We just choose this one,” Jones told reporters at City Hall, adding that he and his staff “had conversations” with candidates from “several different localities.”
As for why the city and Norwood mutually agreed to part ways, Jones declined to offer much explanation. “We have some crime statistics that are trending up and some that are trending down,” Jones says. “Overall they are good, but we want to make sure that we stop any backsliding or upward trends.”
Jones couldn’t offer specifics, but Tarasovic said that there are a couple of areas that concern him when looking at crime statistics for 2012.
“We all know that the homicide rate went up slightly. But along with that the assaults, the aggravated assaults, with weapons, with handguns, went up … in proportion to that, about 7 percent,” Tarasovic says. “We are going to look at that.”
He also mentioned an uptick in what he described as detail crimes: “Larcenies from a building, larcenies from places, burglaries, not from people’s homes, but their outbuildings,” Tarasovic said. “Those are kind of education and attention-to-detail crimes that we will spend a lot of time looking at and working with.”