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Henrico introduces ex-Spider Eric English as police chief

Posted at 10:16 AM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 18:08:35-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico County introduced Eric English as its new police chief Monday morning. With the hiring, English becomes the first Black police chief in Henrico.

English is a former University of Richmond basketball player who was also a member of the Spiders Sweet 16 team in 1988.

He also served as a member of the Richmond Police department, beginning as a patrol officer and working his way up to deputy chief in 2011.

English most recently served as chief of police in Harrisonburg.

"Wow," said English. "I just want to say this is truly, truly a blessing to be back home."

English is no stranger to Henrico as he still owns a home in the county and his now adult children attended Henrico County Public schools.

"These are difficult times, but I know we are up to the task," English said from the podium at the Henrico Police Academy on Monday. "Partnerships, building trust, getting to know your community -- all of those things are important."

CBS 6 spoke one-on-one with English following the announcement.

He said he will bring a vision of what he'd like to see the Henrico Police Department accomplish, which includes increased transparency. English also planned to diversify the force.

"I think it’s important for us to recruit in the right manner and reflects the population of our community that we serve. I think it’s extremely important," he explained.

English said police departments need to be involved in the discussion when asked about his opinion on citizen review boards, which help hold officers accountable.

He also questioned removing officers from schools.

"What is the purpose? Is it because everyone wants to get rid of school resource officers or is it not working in Henrico County? Those are things I think you have to look at," English explained.

He also urged his officers to hold each other accountable while supporting one another during an oftentimes contentious relationship with the public.

"We have to understand this is the pulse of what’s going on across the nation," English said. "We can’t afford to make mistakes, especially major mistakes as we’ve seen across the country in some of these instances."

Earlier this summer, Chief Humberto “Hum” Cardounel Jr. announced Monday he planned to retire on September 1.

Cardounel had been chief for four years.

Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas had notified the Board of Supervisors his intention to expand the hiring process outside of the county.

"We also wanted someone who understand and embrace our values and our community," Vithoulkas stated. "We want our police chief to be responsive, accountable, and to work with our residents, our business community and other stakeholders."

Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O'Bannon applauded the hire.

"I'm very impressed. I'm glad to see he’s from Henrico cause then he will know the Henrico way," she said. "The manager had told us he was going to open it up this time. Not because there’s bad candidates within the ranks, but he decided this would be a good time, in today’s times, to open up things a bit to see if there’s a better candidate or someone qualified that would bring something new to the table."

Raiford Beasley, the president of Henrico's chapter of the NAACP, called English's hire a "positive."

"I think he’s the most qualified man for the position and I think that makes it great for the citizens of Henrico County as well," Beasley stated. "I have every confidence things are getting better, but it think things are getting better under Chief Cardounel."

English will assume the role as Henrico Police Chief on September 14.