Suffolk’s Interim Chief of Police talks teamwork and transparency

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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Among the Peanut Festival’s wealth of activities was a chance to chat with the chief. Interim Chief of Police James Buie, alongside members of the Suffolk Police Department, held a meet and greet with Peanut Fest attendees during SPD’s “Chat with the Chief” event held on Sunday, Oct. 8, at the Suffolk Executive Airport. Along with meeting and conversing with Buie at the SPD tent, residents were able to speak with local police officers while also learning more about the police as well. 

This group effort wasn’t a coincidence. Buie talked about wanting to include team members in the chat, and in making decisions, he spoke about the importance of having a team.

“At first, it was like a ‘Chat with Command.’ So, for us, we make our decisions

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based as a team. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the final decision, but we coordinate and we work together, me and the command staff, and answer all the questions,” Buie said. “So we’re all out here today to chat with the general public, answer any questions people may have. Whether it be about policing, whether it be about recruiting and joining the police department or about Suffolk in general.”

Reflecting on the 45th Peanut Festival’s reception, Buie expressed that it was “fantastic” after attending Thursday and Friday’s celebrations. 

“It’s just a friendly, friendly environment. I received updates every night on activity at the Peanut Fest, and I have not received any reports of any bad activity. It’s all been positive, everybody is friendly to each other and talking to each other, and that’s a sign of a healthy community, and that’s what we want to see. Everybody getting along talking to each other, communicating, and so far, so good,” Buie said.

Finally, on the importance of having the Chat with the Chief during Peanut Fest, Buie explained that the community should be able to communicate with the Chief of Police anytime they want.

“For me, it’s all about being open, being transparent. I have nothing to hide — certain things in policing are confidential about trials, identities, and all that, but for me, it’s transparency. The community owns our police department. It’s not my police department, it’s not the command staff’s police department, it’s the City of Suffolk Police Department,” he said. “The community owns it, and without their by end, without them believing in us and knowing that we’re going to do the right things at the right time and do this with the utmost of character, then we can’t police.”

Buie continued.

“I want you to know, and I want everyone else to know that we have a great working relationship with our community. A great working relationship. I don’t just say that to say that it means everything, and we need to keep that partnership going. They help us by being the eyes and ears of the community and solving crimes. We just work together as one big team to make Suffolk the best place it can be. I grew up in Suffolk. I live in Suffolk, I work in Suffolk, and I’m going to retire in Suffolk, so I want our police department to be good, always. And that is my intention.”