Lynchburg police chief speaks out about retirement

Chief Raul Diaz leaves in September

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - Lynchburg police welcomed 11 new officers on Friday. This will be the last recruit class Police Chief Raul Diaz will get to see. He'll be switching his LPD uniform for an old one. He's going back to the U.S. Air Force of Special Investigations as a Special Agent.

"The opportunity offered this particular job, without going into specific detail, it has global impact and it's something that for me, as a member of the United States Air Force, is something I really look forward to doing," Diaz said.

Diaz said he came into the department facing a lot of challenges, but one of the main issues left he wishes he could fix is staffing.

"I think its really important that as this community continues to grow, that we have additional staffing to meet those needs," he adds, "I really would liked to have gotten the number up to maybe 195-200 before I left the agency."

Diaz's retirement comes at a time when there are currently two investigations going on for police-involved shootings.

In November of 2017, a woman was shot and killed by police on Triangle Place. Police say the woman was wielding a knife at police and moved toward them in a threatening manner. And in This past February, this year a man was shot in the leg at his home. Both cases are still being reviewed by Commonwealth attorneys outside of Lynchburg.

"These are my cops. I'm not going to walk out on them in the middle of this situation. I want to be here good, bad or indifferent. Whatever happens, I want to be here for that. So when the Commonwealth attorney's make their decision and publish them. I'm going to be here to answer whatever comes from that," Diaz said.

He said he's proud for moving the department into the 21st Century of community policing with programs like the Community Action Team and the Special Investigations Response Team. He also has a message for his replacement.

"Make sure that you really listen when people talk. Make sure that you take in different perspectives. But at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. The decisions lay on you and when you make a decision, stick to it and see it through."

Diaz said there will not be an interim police chief. They hope to start the search in July and have the position filled before September. 

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