Police chief says community holds key to fighting crime

Posted at 7:04 PM, Mar 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-15 19:06:53-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Richmond's new top cop, Chief Ray Tarasovic, says that keeping the city safe is his top priority.

"I get here early. I leave late. I expect my people to work hard,” he told CBS 6 in an interview on the day marking his first month on the job.

Tarasovic says fighting crime through community-policing and neighborhood walk-throughs are critical.

"It's a chance to engage. It's a chance to support not only my people ,which is important, but to support a community that's trying to change,” he said.

But change in leadership at the police department was difficult for some faith-based leaders who strongly supported former Chief Bryan Norwood.

"I think they're more excited now after meeting me. We're not talking about if anymore. We're talking about where do we go,” Tarasovic said.

He's also still in the process of bonding with the officers he leads.

"I think the relationships with the troops are growing. Some of them don't know me -- some of them know me from my previous tenure here.”

Richmond's former police Chief Bryan Norwood told CBS 6 last month that he was blindsided as to why he was let go.

We asked Tarasovic if he was concerned that could happen to him.

“Not a concern,” he said. "If my departure occurred tomorrow I would be alright with that."

CBS 6 asked Tarasovic if he has a timeframe for how long he will serve as chief.

"I don't have a contract that says date specific. But I serve at the pleasure [of the mayor]. I expect to be here a while,” he said.

So, could we say 3 to 5 years, we asked him.

“You could say that," Tarasovic said.

For residents and business owners in Richmond’s Bellevue neighborhood, word of car break-ins is spreading quickly. And so is the chief holding roll call and walking the beat in their community.

"He really does care, very personable. It was really nice to meet him,” said Cecilia Rich, co-owner Rich’s Stitches.

They believe RPD’s commitment to the area will make a difference.

"It's always nice to have the presence in the neighborhood and know that they've got our backs,” said Rich.

Chief Tarasovic also addressed the recent change over the way RPD puts out information, which now goes through the mayor’s press secretary, before it’s disseminated to the public.

“I think coordinated government is good government. I think it was alright before. But I find no obstacle with this increase coordination. No obstacle at all,” said Tarasovic.