New chief of police named

Published 4:50 pm Thursday, January 6, 2022

City Manager Albert S. Moor II on Thursday announced the appointment of Interim Chief Alfred “Al” Chandler as the police chief for the city, effective Jan. 7.

Chandler began his career with the Suffolk Police Department in 1999. In his time on the force, he has served in many capacities in the department, including field training officer, SWAT team operator, lieutenant, captain, and deputy police chief over the detective bureau, special investigations, CSI and Crime Analysis Units.

Chandler was a graduate of the 40th Session of the Chesapeake Police Academy, where he was class president. He holds a Master of Science degree in criminal justice from Saint Leo University. Chandler is a graduate of the West Point Leadership Course, as well as a graduate of the 270th Session of the FBI National Academy.

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The position of police chief had been vacant since Thomas Bennett suddenly announced his retirement on June 10, 2020, to be effective Aug. 1. Chandler was interim chief of police.

“I am proud to make this announcement regarding our new chief of police,” City Manager Albert S. Moor II, who has been interim city manager since September 2020, said in a press release. “I have worked with Chief Chandler over the past 14 months and appreciate his dedication to our city and the police department. Chief Chandler has continually demonstrated that he cares about our police officers and the Suffolk community. I ask for your support as Chief Chandler assumes the role as permanent chief, and I look forward to the police department’s professional approach in protecting and serving all who work and live in the city of Suffolk.”

In an unusual move, Moor released a video more than four minutes long that discussed the recruitment and interview process for the position.

“Our recruitment process needed to be reflective of the thoughts and views of the Suffolk community,” Moor said in the video.

He said residents and business owners, Suffolk Police Department personnel and City Council members each completed separate surveys. The thoughts expressed in the surveys were incorporated in the recruitment process and used for questions during interviews, Moor said.

He said the Human Resources department conducted a nationwide search, with the job posted on LinkedIn, Indeed, the International City and County Management Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

He said a “diverse review committee” composed of senior staff as well as community members was assembled. Thirty applicants were received, and 28 qualified applicants were presented to the committee.

The committee recommended five candidates, who completed a video screening process. After that process, two finalists moved forward.

Moor said he agreed with the committee at each of these steps in the process.

Both finalists were interviewed by two different interview teams, including staff, residents and Moor. The teams then got together and discussed the finalists.

“The final decision for the next police chief for Suffolk rests with me as the city manager,” he said in conclusion. “I take the responsibility seriously and have made a decision based on what I believe is best for the residents of the city of Suffolk and the Suffolk Police Department.”

In response to questions about the reason for the unusual step of releasing the video, city spokesman Tim Kelley released the following statement: “The Chief of Police is a high profile, external facing position which interacts with our residents and businesses. There has been great interest shown by many in the community on the recruitment of the future chief. As noted in the video, the City Manager wanted to affirm the equitable and inclusive nature of the search and let the public know how the process progressed until the time of his final decision. His achieved goal was to select the right person as Chief of Police for the city of Suffolk.”