Create a Website Account - Manage notification subscriptions, save form progress and more.
Retiring Police Chief Philip Broadfoot said Tuesday a sense of duty and devotion to country guided him through his 44-year career in law enforcement that included 13 years as chief of police in Waynesboro and 14 years as chief of police in Danville.
His comments came during a retirement reception held in his honor at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
“We have accomplished a lot of great things during our time together,” Broadfoot said of his tenure in Danville. “We met the challenges and made the necessary changes to make the Danville Police Department a leader in Southside Virginia.”
He added that the department embraced a “relentless pursuit of incremental change.”
“That is how you make organizations move,” he said. “Don’t ever stop.”
Broadfoot showed those in attendance a brass belt buckle that he wears with his police uniform. His father wore the belt buckle when he served in the military.
“Though he seldom talked about his service, I acquired from him a sense of duty and devotion to country,” Broadfoot said. “A remarkable thing happened as I followed my career path while wearing that belt buckle. My father’s service as a soldier in World War II was in defense of freedom. I quickly realized that my service as a police officer would be the privilege to apply those very freedoms using the Constitution of the United States.”
Broadfoot said he had “a front row seat so to speak” for the majority of his career. He mentioned several Supreme Court decisions that have had an impact on police operations.
He called on the citizens of Danville to support the next police chief when named. “Your support is critical to the success of the next chief, to the Police Department and the City of Danville,” he said.
He also called on each one to find that “belt buckle” that will serve as a guide.
“Many of you have a belt buckle just like this,” Broadfoot said. “It may not be brass. It may not look like a buckle, but it is your own personal symbolic belt buckle. …. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to find that symbolic belt buckle in your lives and use it to provide you guidance and direction when you are lost, to allow you to carve a path that is straight, to give you a sense of peace and purpose. There is a belt buckle to be found in everyone’s life. I was fortunate to have found mine.”
His retirement will be effective Jan. 1. More than 150 city officials, state and local leaders and colleagues attended the reception, where Broadfoot was hailed for his integrity, intellect and leadership as police chief.
In addition, Rick Myers, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, served as keynote speaker. He presented a message on policing today, which he said requires a collaborative process between police and the community, a partnership intensely focused on problem solving, and organizational transformation with police officers who can think, analyze and act.
Myers has 40 years of experience in policing, including as chief in Newport News, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and three cities in the upper Midwest.
“There are no quick fixes,” Myers said in talking about improving the quality of life in a community. Improvement, he said, can only happen “through a sustained effort, focusing on addressing underlying causes that manifest in crime and disorderliness."
“What I am here to tell you, as I have in many communities over the years in my service in policing, is these underlying causes are not the exclusive domain of the police,” Myers said. “….We are asking cops to do too much in this country. With every societal failure, we put it on cops to solve.”
Broadfoot began his career in law enforcement in 1973 as a patrol officer with the Waynesboro Police Department. He served in every division, including SWAT team commander, and was promoted through the ranks. He obtained his master’s in public administration in 1986 and in 1990 was named chief of police, leading a staff of 67 employees.
In March 2003, he joined the City of Danville as chief of police. During his tenure, he has championed and expanded efforts to leverage data and technology to increase productivity, transparency and accountability and build trust with the community. In July 2016, he was invited to the White House to deliver a presentation to other chiefs on the benefits of open data. The presentation was part of the President’s initiative on “Advancing 21st Century Policing.”
During Broadfoot’s tenure as chief of police in Danville, the department also has seen reductions, adjusted for population, of 11 percent in overall crime and 27 percent in major crime. Broadfoot credits the decrease in major crime to the application of community policing strategies, especially problem oriented policing.
Broadfoot announced his retirement in August. The city is nearing the completion of the hiring process for Broadfoot’s successor.