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Chesapeake police chief focused on gun violence, overcoming staffing shortage ahead of retirement

With just four months left in office, Chief Col. Kelvin Wright said he still is working on a plan to move the police department forward.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Although retirement is just four months away for Chief Col. Kelvin Wright, he said Friday that he’s not really thinking about it. 

He's still focused on curbing gun violence in Chesapeake, building a diverse staff, and overcoming staffing shortages.

After a 40-year run with the department,14 of those years as the top cop, Wright said it’s time to hang up his badge.

“I’m still young," he said. "I have my health. I have a wonderful wife and two grandsons I want to spend more time with.”

Wright said one of his greatest achievements throughout his career has been the relationship the department has built with the Chesapeake community.

“It’s always been important to us that we are seen as a part of the community and not apart from the community,” Wright said.

Though, thoughts of leaving the force have been far from his mind as crime increases across Hampton Roads. Wright said the department will continue its efforts to reduce violence. 

"Make sure we identify the people who are trafficking illegal handguns, those who are the ones responsible for the shootings," he said.

He said the department has been a part of the NIBIN Program and Trigger Trace to help with those efforts. 

Before announcing his retirement, Wright worked on the department’s strategic plan. Part of it includes hiring more officers after dealing with a staffing shortage. He said the department has 27 vacancies right now. 

"We've seen an increase in applicants, both 'new interest' and lateral police officers," he said.

He believes the department's staffing shortage won't be an issue for much longer, with a recruit academy set to graduate next week and another one coming down the line. 

Wright said another challenge within the department is emergency custody orders.

“The Marcus Alert," he said. "Not just how we implement it, but how do we manage our time and our commitments required under the current law to sit with people as they go through the process?”

Looking ahead, he encourages the future chief to develop strategies for mental health support for the department's staff. He also shared a piece of advice.

“Consider other people’s point of view," he said. "Don’t be so thin-skinned and always, always, take time to engage the public.”

A city spokesperson said there's no timeline on when we'll see a new chief take over in Chesapeake. Chief Wright will retire in August.

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