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Norfolk interim police chief takes over as city grapples with violence

Norfolk said Deputy City Manager Mike Goldsmith, who previously served as police chief, temporarily would lead the force in light of Chief Larry Boone's retirement.

NORFOLK, Va. — Friday is Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone's last official day on the job. His retirement comes weeks after announcing he is leaving office and as the city grapples with a wave of violence Downtown.    

In the meantime, Norfolk's Deputy City Manager, Mike Goldsmith, is putting his badge back on to serve as Interim Police Chief.

After 23 years as a captain, Goldsmith served as Norfolk's police chief starting in 2012. During his time as Chief, he helped launch the Crisis Intervention Team to better handle mental health calls in the city.

But he stepped down from his role in 2016. Since then, Goldsmith served as Norfolk's deputy city manager, overseeing the city's public safety.

Bilal Muhammed with Stop the Violence Norfolk said he worked on community engagement projects with Chief Boone. He wishes Boone stayed longer and considered his time in office cut short.

"We are hurt... we are hurt about it it. But we got to move forward. [Boone] encouraged us to keep pushing," Muhammed said.

He added, "We'd like to see Chief Goldsmith engage a lot in the community, especially where a lot of crime is taking place. He'd have to reach out."

As Goldsmith takes over in an interim role, the city is on the hunt for a permanent replacement.

But when it comes to having a say in who will become new police chief, Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander said that decision isn’t up to him.

"It will be solely at the discretion of the city manager, when he's ready to bring forth a candidate or candidates," Alexander previously said. "I would hope that there would be surveys and maybe some polls or focus groups to gauge what the community is looking for in a new police chief. But the city manager has not had any conversation with the council about that process."

City Manager Chip Filer has said it will take about five months to fill the position.

The change in leadership comes as police have responded to three separate shootings in recent weeks in Downtown Norfolk. Four people have died and more injured.

The weeks of violence in the downtown area have made many organizations and community members speak out, asking city leaders to make Downtown streets safer.

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One group said city leaders answered its request by adding an extra set of eyes along Granby Street.

Downtown Norfolk Civic League President Leila Vann said the organization asked for more cameras in the area, and city leaders followed through. 

Norfolk police say six mobile street cameras are placed along Granby, adding that those cameras are fully operational and portable.

For Vann, it's a start.

"Let's start on Granby, yeah, [but] I think they need them on the side streets too," she said."

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