Hail To The Chiefs
HPD Displays Past, Present 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 email@example.com