PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Peterburg’s Police Chief has announced his retirement from the department on the same day the agency made history, becoming fully accredited for the first time ever.
Chief Kenneth Miller says the accreditation is about holding the department to a new set of standards. He shares with 8News that more than 300 law enforcement agencies reside in the commonwealth and less than 150 are accredited.
Chief Miller says he is proud to have earned the honor and it’s something he pushed for right away after becoming chief in 2017.
“For me, it was extremely important to have the accreditation,” Miller said. “To go through the process and be successful at it on our first try, it’s a testament to this staff and not me.”
At Tuesday morning’s announcement, Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham took the podium to congratulate the department’s hard work.
“We celebrate and congratulate our Petersburg Bureau of Police on this incredible achievement,” Parham said. “Let’s give them a round of applause.”
City leaders and officials gathered as an official accreditation sticker was placed on a police cruiser; a first in the department’s 210-year history.
The process of earning accreditation is a rigorous one. It takes three years, the department must meet more than 200 state-wide standards, and complete an audit of policies. Chief Miller says he pushed for it for one reason.
“Accountability,” Miller told 8News. “It cuts down on poor behavior, so with our body cameras and things the accreditation offers we hold ourselves to a different standard.”
Accreditation means the department is eligible for more grant money. The department is looking to upgrade equipment, enhance education programs and spread community engagement.
City Council Member Annette Smith-Lee says this is a win for the city.
“This accomplishment just means so much to the city,” Smith-Lee said. “For the last 25 or 30 years the crack cocaine came in that caused a lot of crime, but now we are on the uphill. Our crime is lower than it’s ever been.”
Chief Miller has spearheaded a lot of firsts in the city of Petersburg, outside of the accreditation he pushed for the department’s first body cameras, stood outside the department with protesters demanding equality, and implemented community service projects.
For example, every Tuesday and Thursday officers visit city churches to feed those in need.
After more than 40 years in law enforcement, Chief Miller is retiring.
“It’s a great city, but it’s time,” Miller said. “I love this city and want to thank everyone that’s here.”
Chief Miller will be passing the torch to current Deputy Chief of Police and former Waverly Police Chief, Travis Christian.
“It’s a humbling experience for me to be able to take this department even further,” Christian said. “Chief Miller has laid a foundation for us, we’re fortunate.”
Newly appointed Chief Christian says he will continue with Miller’s community engagement and police reform. Chief Miller’s last day will be on November 1, 2020.
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