Richmond's unconventional police chief, Chris Magnus, has endured trials and tribulations and made some enemies, but he has also helped drive down crime in a notoriously tough city while drawing on broad community support. Here's a rundown of his background and thoughts on various topics.
"I believe I have a very strong record of promoting persons of color as well as women. I continue to work to make the department as representative of the community as possible."
"I consider myself a change agent."
"OMG, I just love Maureen's way with words!!!!! :-)" (An Aug. 19 Facebook post, commenting on New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's latest work)
"I fully appreciate the sheriff's concerns about holding dangerous individuals in secure detention, but a very large group of offenders currently held in county detention facilities are there awaiting trial -- they haven't been found guilty of anything yet -- and in
"You have really become a rock star on the streets. ... The people on 23rd Street you're working with really remember a positive experience." (During a department commendation ceremony for a multilingual female officer's community policing accomplishment)
"Beat blogs, that's what I'd like to reinstate. I am really committed to that idea, it's a priority." (Telling command staff during a meeting that he wants to develop blogs maintained by officers that are focused on sharing information with small communities)
"When I came here, people told me the less the public sees, the less they expect and the better it will be. Don't go to these community meetings, I was told, it will just make it harder. I just don't agree with that at all, and I went my own way."
"In Fargo, I had an office in the lobby, always close to people, always open. When I came here, the office was tucked in a corner on the second floor. I had to change that immediately."
"Part of my job is just to be the cheerleader for the great work our men and women are doing."
"As I hire new officers, I am looking for people who have a broader worldview than their own life experience, a worldview that is open to learning about others and celebrating that diversity. Most of all, I want people who want to make a difference, a positive change."
"I've made a lot of mistakes. One is it's hard to know when you need to spend more time on internal department issues. I make mistakes sometimes in assuming that things are being followed through on internally. I have to make sure my messages are permeating through the organization."
"The idea of being more transparent with crime data, transparency in general, doesn't go well with most police department cultures. They don't want to share information with the larger public. Ceding control gets people freaked out. It's not something we like to do."
"I have loyalty and admiration, but not blind loyalty."
"I feel like there is still a lot of work to be done here in Richmond, and I still enjoy doing it."
"I am extremely grateful that at least so far this summer we have not had the kind of violence in Richmond that we had last summer. That said, it has been really busy on a whole range of other noncrime related matters! So it goes, eh?" (Aug. 15 Facebook post)
"Best point: Sexual orientation is part of a person's identity. Why should any of us have to keep our identity a secret?" (July 4 Facebook post, commenting on a New York Times Op-Ed)
"Our officers have a difficult balancing act to maintain: enforcement and community engagement. I think they do both well, and I am very impressed with the way they have reduced crimes and taken real ownership for the neighborhoods they work in."
"We had a shooting down on Maine Street about a month ago where a 10-year-old boy got hit. That's one that we solved, we have someone in custody ... But that happens because we have people in the community who won't accept this, who are talking to us, which is critical because we can't figure this stuff out by ourselves." Speaking to a group of women in July at the Barrett Apartments
"I get push back on change, sure. Every bureaucracy hates change, and in a Police Department you have a lot of Type-A personalities with a lot of autonomy. When you push people out of their comfort zone, you get resistance."
"What will it take to get the Sheriff to cooperate with the Ceasefire movement?" Magnus asked during a CompStat meeting in July, referring to the community-based peace campaign headed by local clergy in the city and in unincorporated North Richmond.
"A miracle," Lt. Chuck Whitney mumbles.
"If they don't participate, we are at a disadvantage," Magnus says. "We can only be successful through partnership."