Police major retires

Published 10:07 pm Friday, November 30, 2012

Things have changed a lot since Maj. Larry Wilson joined the Suffolk Police Department at 19 years old.

The city’s population has more than doubled. Police work has been digitized and computerized. The department has moved from a reactive mindset to proactive policing.


And Wilson is now 51 — and retiring. Friday marked his last day as one of two second-in-commands at the department.

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“I feel like I’ve had the greatest opportunity and the greatest career that could have been afforded to me,” Wilson said this week. “I work with incredible people that I think a great deal of and will miss significantly.”

Wilson can’t remember not wanting to work in law enforcement. He took the job with Suffolk because at the time, the department hired recruits at 19, and he was eager to become a police officer.

He was taking police science classes at Tidewater Community College when the instructor made an announcement that Suffolk Police Department was hiring. He drove downtown to get an application that afternoon.

After starting in uniform patrol, he became a canine handler and later was promoted to sergeant. He then started in what became the narcotics unit and was promoted to lieutenant and then captain, where he was responsible for an entire precinct.

In 2004, he earned the promotion to major. In 2010, when Stephanie Burch also was promoted to major, his former duties were split.

For the past two years, he has been responsible for the administrative command, which includes overseeing internal affairs, training, background and recruiting, budget, property and evidence, warrants, central files and communication.

“You get to support all of those under you as well as the person above you,” Wilson said.

That person currently above him, Chief Thomas Bennett, has been there for only three years but has meshed well with him, Wilson said.

“I think our personalities are very similar,” Wilson said. “He’s very forthright. You know where you stand.”

Soft-spoken but firm, Wilson is just the kind of guy you would expect to call his job “the most fun you can have and still get paid to go to work” but still have the guts to grab the business end of a gun pointed at his face in a convenience store back in the ‘80s. That’s the story colleagues remember, but Wilson downplays the episode, preferring instead to heap praise on his colleagues.

“I’ve worked with some amazing people,” he said. “All the people that work in the administrative command are incredibly capable. They made the last couple of years of my career just delightful.”

Wilson said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family.