Hail To The Chiefs

HPD Displays Past, Present Leaders

Posted: May 15, 2013

LEFT TO RIGHT: Lura Ritchie, widow of Julius Ritchie, Harrisonburg police chief from 1947 to 1974; Duane Fairweather, chief from 1991 to 1992; Richard Presgrave, chief from 1975 to 1991; incumbent Chief Stephen Monticelli; and Donald Harper, chief from 1993 to 2012, admire the new Chiefs Wall of Service at the Public Safety Building on Tuesday. (Photos by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
Harrisonburg Police Department Capts. Tom Hoover (left) and Dan Claytor unveil the Chiefs Wall of Service on Tuesday as incumbent Chief Stephen Monticelli looks on.
HPD Police Chief Stephen Monticelli gets acquainted on Tuesday with predecessors (left to right) Duane Fairweather, Richard Presgrave and Donald Harper.
HARRISONBURG — Police officers pulled a white sheet from a Public Safety Building classroom wall Tuesday to unveil a new display honoring the city’s past law enforcement leaders.

Eighteen framed headshots dating back to the 1870s make up the new Harrisonburg Police Department Chiefs Wall of Service, the result of a monthslong project sorting through records to unearth all the chiefs’ names and photos.

“I’m surprised they found [pictures of] all of them,” former Chief Donald Harper said following Tuesday’s dedication ceremony, part of HPD’s celebration of National Police Week.

The week, created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, is held to honor law enforcement.

“We felt it fitting to honor our past leadership [this week],” said Harrisonburg Police Chief Stephen Monticelli.

The three living former chiefs — Harper, Duane Fairweather and Richard Presgrave — attended the ceremony, as well as Lura Ritchie, widow of Julius Ritchie, who led the HPD from 1947 until 1974.

“It’s a wonderful thing and I know my husband would have been well pleased,” said Ritchie, 94, who lives south of Harrisonburg. “They should be remembered.”

The first name on the wall is Joseph Kelly, who served from 1873 until 1876. According to a history of the Harrisonburg Police Department posted on the Harrisonburg government website, the police department and the office of the chief of police were created through a City Council ordinance and Kelly was chosen as the first chief.

Fairweather, 66, of Lacey Spring, who was chief from 1991 until 1992, and Presgrave, 76, of Harrisonburg, who served from 1975 until 1991, both said it was an honor to have their pictures on the wall.

“I think it’s nice to be remembered in this fashion with all the past chiefs and those that are to come,” Presgrave said.

Added Harper: “I really appreciate the current chief doing it.”

Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or esharrer@dnronline.com

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