City names interim police chief

Published 11:39 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A former Hampton police chief will serve as the interim chief of police for Suffolk until a permanent replacement can be found, the city announced Tuesday.

Thomas H. Townsend will be the interim chief of police for the city effective Jan. 1. He is filling the opening created by the retirement on Dec. 31 of Chief William Freeman, who announced in November that he would be leaving office at the end of the year.

Townsend comes to the city with more than 30 years of experience with the Hampton Police Department, according to a city news release issued Tuesday. He joined the Hampton force in January 1974, just three years after Freeman began his stint in Suffolk. Townsend became chief of police in January 2000 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2004. He served in virtually every area of the department as he rose through the ranks. He received numerous departmental honors, including the Legion of Honor Award for being feloniously wounded in the line of duty.

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He most recently served as the interim superintendent at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail from November 2006 to August of this year. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Christopher Newport College (now University).

He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he served on the USS Hepburn from October 1970 to August 1972, with two deployments to Vietnam.

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn said in the news release that having Townsend in place would allow the city time to find “the perfect candidate” for the permanent position.

Townsend and his wife, Melody, have three children, Matthew, Sarah and Courtney.