New police chief named in Danville

Scott Booth is a military and law enforcement veteran

DANVILLE, Va. – Newly hired police chief Scott Booth said he plans to rely heavily on community policing to tackle the issues the city of Danville is dealing with.

Booth said he was brought up in a community policing environment and has seen first hand how successful a robust community policing effort can be.

That's why he's excited to have an opportunity to implement that kind of an effort in Danville.

Booth, 46, comes to Danville after 19 years with the Richmond Police Department, where he rose to the rank of major, and about two years as the police chief for the airport authority in Washington, D.C.

He also spent seven years in the Army.

Booth currently works for Homeland Security and the Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"I like to think I have a lot of ability to dig into something and look at 'How do we make this better.' How do we work with the community to solve crime, how do we increase morale," Booth said.

He is married with no kids and is from northern Virginia.

"Danville's Danville. It's exciting. What attracted me to Danville was, for one, a very professional police department that's focused and wants to make things better for the residents and the people that visit here," Booth explained.

"You have a community that is energized and excited for change."

Violent crime, especially homicides, is at the forefront of the minds of many people in Danville.

There were a record 16 homicides in 2016 and 13 last year.

Gang activity is also a growing problem.

While a police chief alone cannot solve these problems, Booth believes his community-based strategy can help.

"I want to see programs that are alternatives for people before they even become involved in gang activity," Booth said.

"Our police department has to be out there actively working with youth, and more importantly, my police officers have to be working with the community to build those programs. Because we can't do it on our own."

Booth was one of about 50 people that applied to be the city's new police chief after Chief Philip Broadfoot announced he would retire at the end of last year.

Danville city manager Ken Larking, who hired Booth, said Booth is the right man for the job.

"We started out (our search) by having community input, professional people had input, the police department had input. A lot of folks talked about what they wanted to see in a police chief," Larking said.

"They really wanted to make sure that we continued and probably improved upon the community engagement aspect of our police department," Larking continued.

That will take some work, but the task is something Booth said he's looking forward to.

"Danville is a challenge, but it's a challenge we can impact together. So, I get excited about that. I think we can do good things in this city," Booth said.

Feb. 5 will be his first official day on the job.

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