NORFOLK, Va. — Officers walked in and out of Norfolk Police Headquarters Friday afternoon as the roles in their leadership now begin to shift.
City leaders announced Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone's retirement on Wednesday as the police department grapples with staffing shortages and increased gun violence.
According to Chief Boone, his department has more than 200 vacancies. The city is also seeing a surge in gun violence, especially with two separate shootings in Downtown Norfolk that killed three people and injured others.
Now, Norfolk's Deputy City Manager, Mike Goldsmith, is taking over as interim police chief.
During his career, Chief Boone worked closely with community and gun violence prevention activists. Bilal Muhammed with Stop the Violence Norfolk said he still has unfinished business with Boone.
"He had more to offer the City of Norfolk," said Muhammed. "We were working on a youth forum at the Kroc Center and the chief was going to be one of the guests on the panel for that event."
Muhammed said he spoke personally with the chief after the announcement of his retirement, saying the chief told him now is "his time to retire." He said the chief told him he is staying in Norfolk and has plans to move forward, but would not tell Muhammed what those plans are.
"I believe that it should've took more time," said Muhammed as he stood in front of the police headquarters. "If he would have allowed himself just a little more time, I believe the problem, the violence in the City of Norfolk would reduce."
Now, Muhammed said he is looking to partner with Interim Police Chief Goldsmith as they transition to someone new in the role.
Looking back on Goldsmith's history with the City of Norfolk, he served as police chief starting in 2012. He's credited with helping launch the Crisis Intervention Team to better handle mental health calls.
In 2016, Goldsmith stepped down from his role and Chief Boone stepped into the spotlight.
As gun violence surges in the city and community activists try to get guns out of young people's hands, Muhammed said this transition between chiefs is a crucial time to address the problem.
"We'd like to see Chief Goldsmith engage a lot in the community, especially where a lot of crime is taking place," said Muhamed. "He'd have to reach out."
Norfolk's NAACP Branch said Chief Boone's retirement brings attention to the plans for gun violence intervention initiatives and the staffing shortage issues, saying:
"The Norfolk Branch NAACP would like to take this opportunity to thank Chief Larry Boone for his 33 years of service to the residents and Norfolk Police Department in the City of Norfolk. We acknowledge that at times it was one of the most difficult jobs, but he always put the needs of the citizens and members of the Norfolk Police Department priority. Chief Boone did his due diligence to build trust between the community and law enforcement. We recognize that being a law enforcement officer is an extremely dangerous occupation especially given the recent events in our city. Therefore, the Norfolk Branch NAACP would like to thank Chief Larry Boone for his leadership, support, and dedication to the tasks, and for rallying around our communities in the most difficult times."
While Chief Boone's last day in office was Friday, his official retirement date is April 29.
13News Now reached out to Interim Police Chief Goldsmith. A city spokeswoman says he is not doing interviews at this time.