Chesapeake, Virginia: Where Community Policing and Customer Service Go Hand in Hand

The COPS Office is pleased to feature the February 2016 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest—The Chesapeake (Virginia) Police Department.  Their winning photo features a Chesapeake resident greeting an officer during a neighborhood walk-through.

Chesapeake, Virginia, is located in the southeastern region of the state, neighboring Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The city was incorporated in 1963 and has enjoyed steady growth ever since. Spanning 353 square miles and separated into five boroughs, the city has a population of approximately 238,000, of which roughly 68 percent are Caucasian, 28 percent are African American, and 4 percent are Hispanic.

Chesapeake has a combination of urban, rural, and suburban areas within its boundaries, and therefore the Chesapeake Police Department relies on its residents to help ensure that the community’s varied public safety needs are being addressed. Chief Kelvin L. Wright, who has been with the department since 1982 and has served as chief since 2008, credits an active and engaged community as the department’s greatest asset. “Trying to make sure that we have adequate coverage and the number of officers to address emerging crime trends is a challenge for us,” he said. “But we have very engaged citizens who are concerned about the affairs of the community, particularly crime.”

In Chesapeake’s winning photo, one of those engaged citizens is featured greeting an officer during a walk-through in the Harbor North community. “She was sitting outside as we were walking through the community and she saw us. She knows the officers and they know her. And that’s important,” said Chief Wright. “She calls us all the time about things going on in her community and we go out and address them. I’ve also seen her at city council meetings speaking on behalf of the officers. She’s a great lady.”

The Chesapeake Police Department’s mission statement, "in partnership with the community, promote a safe city through prevention of crime and enforcement of laws,” embodies the principles of community policing. “For over 20 years, we’ve been deeply involved in community policing,” Chief Wright explained. The department participates in Serve the City, a faith-based operation that assists the elderly and underserved; supports the Virginia Rules Camp, a yearly camp for 60 youth who have never attended camp before; and operates the Junior Police Academy, a six-week program for youth aged 14–18.

“We started the Junior Police Academy four years ago and the first year we ran it, a parent said to me ‘I wish you could run this year round because my son, who was not concerned about anything or anybody, has been transformed in the last few months.’ That was powerful for me. It gives me joy,” Chief Wright shared.

In addition, the department is very active at community civic meetings and the city council’s town hall meetings. “We’re the only city entity that attends the town hall meetings. We give public safety tips and listen to community concerns. It’s amazing that the city doesn’t complain about the police department,” said Chief Wright. He started to laugh when he added, “One guy said he likes us but doesn’t like that we don’t let him drive his golf cart around his neighborhood.”

With four core values—community service, integrity, professionalism, and respect—the department focuses on providing quality customer service to its residents, so much so that it has a customer service survey on its website. “The survey works,” said Chief Wright. “We even put it on the back of traffic tickets. We want to know how things went during the traffic stop. That’s important to us. One person told us that he got a traffic ticket but the officer was one of the nicest people he had ever met.”

With such active and engaged residents and a chief dedicated to community policing, it’s no surprise that the featured photo shows such a special moment between an officer and resident. “It’s wonderful to be involved in a great community. It’s not just the citizens, but it’s the officers and city council as well. Everyone is concerned about how we provide quality service to the community. We’re about trying to get it right. We’re user friendly. We want to be seen not just as a service for the community, but as a part of the community,” said Chief Wright.

The COPS Office congratulates the Chesapeake Police Department for being one of the 12 winners of the COPS Office 2016 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest and for its commitment to community policing.

Written with contributions from Chesapeake Police Chief Kelvin L. Wright. Photo courtesy of Fallon Williams.

Najla Haywood
Special Contributor
The COPS Office


1 “City of Chesapeake Police Department,” accessed January 20, 2016.

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