The retirement of Leesburg Police Chief Joseph R. Price later this spring will close an important era in the department’s history.
His 16-year tenure was marked by significant growth of both the town’s population and the police force, as well as an increasing complexity in the nature of crime in the community. Price and his team largely met the challenges and earned plenty of state and national accolades along the way. He leaves a strong foundation upon which his successor can build.
Town Manager Kaj Dentler holds the responsibility to choose Price’s replacement—with, under the terms of the town charter, the “advice and consent” of the Town Council. It will be the most important hire of Dentler’s time in the top job.
This is one post for which the town would be well advised to cast a wide net. A national search is the right way to go.
Before that begins, however, town leaders—with input from a broad range of community interests—should develop a clear vision for their police force over the next decade and clearly define the qualities they want to see in its leader. This is an ideal time for a discussion of what the department does well now and what it can do better in the future.
The expectations should be set high for applicants.
In an era when relations between residents and law enforcement grab headlines for the wrong reasons, Leesburg has the opportunity to build a model force.