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Harrisonburg, Virginia

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Police Chief – Harrisonburg, Virginia


The Position

Harrisonburg’s next Police Chief will lead a department with a stellar record and strong community and interfaith relationships in an energetic college town within the central Shenandoah Valley. Harrisonburg, or “The Friendly City,” enjoys the presence of two universities, lively neighborhoods, an arts and cultural district, culinary district, and spectacular outdoor recreation spots nearby. The City has a history of an effective government that is fiscally sound, has stability in its leadership, interacts with an engaged citizenry, and provides exceptional services.

The Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD) is made up of 111.5 sworn police officers and 25 full-time civilian support personnel, who provide 24-hour emergency and non-emergency services to a diverse population. There are 21 auxiliary officers (volunteers) of which 13 are sworn and eight are administrative.

The command staff includes three captains who oversee Patrol, Special Operations, and Administrative bureaus and six lieutenants. There are six sergeants, nine corporals, and two civilian supervisors. Patrol operates primarily with 12-hour fixed shifts of day, nights, and a power shift during the evenings.

In the current structure, the Police Chief’s direct reports are the three captains, an administrative lieutenant, internal affairs corporal, crime analyst, senior program support specialist, and two chaplains.

The department has an approved 2017-2018 budget of $ 11.9 million. There are currently one civilian and 13 officer vacancies. The HPD works closely with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, Public Safety personnel at James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University, and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Emergency Communications Center. The City is a partner in the Rockingham County Jail and Middle River Regional Jail.

The mission of the department is to partner with the community and City departments to reduce crime, provide a safe community, encourage personal responsibility of residents, and continue to enhance the public’s trust. As a means of developing community involvement and partnerships, the department utilizes the geographic policing concept also called the Police Service Model. The department is divided into seven geographic districts with officers and supervisors assigned to each district.

The Police Chief reports directly to the City Manager and works closely with the Deputy City Manager and all department directors. The position is open after the retirement of a chief who served the department for five years, who ultimately replaced a chief who served for more than 20 years.

The Organization

The City of Harrisonburg operates under the council-manager form of government. Residents of Harrisonburg elect a five-member council to direct the goals and policies of the City. The five-member council has four-year, staggered terms. The Mayor and Vice Mayor are chosen and voted on by the council itself and serve in their roles for two years. The City Manager is appointed by the Council and oversees the delivery of public services through the city departments. There are 12 departments within the City including Planning and Community Development, Economic Development, Finance, Fire, Emergency Communications Center, Human Resources, Information Technology, Parks and Recreation, Police, Public Transportation, Public Utilities, and Public Works. The Voter Registrar, Commissioner of the Revenue, and Treasurer are elected officials who work with staff on a daily basis.

The City of Harrisonburg manages a workforce of approximately 621 full-time and 128 part-time employees and has an adopted FY2018 general fund budget of $111,679,799.


The position requires a minimum of ten (10) years of experience as a police officer, including at least five (5) years of experience in supervision and management in a command rank or higher. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, police administration, psychology, or related field is also required.

Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree, specialized training such as the FBI National Academy, CLEE (Certified Law Enforcement Executive), or the Administrative Officers Course at the Southern Police Institute of the University of Louisville, and experience in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Other preferred qualifications include a demonstrated commitment to the community, change leadership, extensive knowledge of community-oriented policing techniques, experience working in a college town and in a multi-racial and multi-cultural community, and the ability to attract and retain a well-qualified, diverse workforce. The successful applicant must pass a background investigation, credit check, DMV review, and City-mandated drug and alcohol testing. The position requires possession of a driver’s license valid in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Must possess Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services law enforcement certification within 12 months of hire date or be granted a waiver.

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will be a progressive police professional, who is community-oriented, engages with employees at all levels, and has had demonstrated success in change leadership. The next Police Chief will demonstrate the highest level of personal and professional integrity, can lead the department in a culturally rich and diverse community, and work effectively to continuously improve police operations, public safety, and department morale.

The next Chief will take the work seriously and have a sense of humor and humility. The candidate will be open and approachable, a clear communicator, and visible in the community and in the department at all levels. The ideal Police Chief will be a strong leader who will be firm, fair, and hold themselves, command staff, and all officers and staff to the highest levels of service and integrity.

This person will support the department and its employees, will have a high energy and passion for the work, and be committed to achieving results, yet flexible and realistic to motivate others to achieve positive change. He or she will be skilled at utilizing best practices including community-oriented policing, de-escalation, and other techniques to work with those with mental illness, while maintaining a safe environment for police officers and community members.

The ideal candidate will earn the respect of his or her officers, command staff, elected officials, City management, members of the public, and colleagues in the law enforcement community. He or she will be skilled in all areas of police operations, having served as both a patrol officer and a leader and will take a balanced approach to staffing the different components of a law enforcement agency – patrol, investigations, specialty teams, and civilian and volunteer support.

The next Police Chief will inspire both sworn and civilian personnel by establishing a clear vision and by engaging police personnel in developing both short and long-term goals for the department that fall in line with citywide goals. The ideal candidate will combine community policing, effective use of technology, and alternative dispute resolution techniques, and will partner with interfaith and community leaders and other law enforcement organizations, to provide the best services for residents and visitors to the City. He or she will bring innovative approaches to pedestrian safety, traffic, and other quality of life issues impacting public safety.

The next Police Chief will work to improve recruitment and retention of officers, ensure the department provides growth and development for officers, and continue a tradition of strong community partnerships at all levels of the organization. This individual will be fully invested in the City of Harrisonburg, the department, and the community.

The Community

The City of Harrisonburg is an independent city located in the central Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. The City falls within Rockingham County and encompasses 17.3 square miles, serving a population of approximately 54,000. Harrisonburg is located along Interstate 81 and is only two hours away from both Richmond and Washington, D.C.

Once an agricultural hub, Harrisonburg has now evolved into a lively and distinct destination with a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, is home to a plethora of parks and trails, and hosts community events throughout the year.

Downtown Harrisonburg was designated as Virginia’s first recognized Arts and Cultural District in 2001 and the first recognized Culinary District in 2014. Downtown boasts a variety of locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, bars, craft breweries, and boutiques. The area is home to an expansive network of galleries, music venues, theaters, and museums, making it an exciting place for anyone to enjoy.

The City owns the Heritage Oaks Golf Course, voted Best of the Valley 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015. Designed by William Love, Heritage Oaks is a challenging, scenic par 70 course that offers a wide variety of holes for golfers of all abilities.

Harrisonburg is a melting pot of ethnic diversity. In recent years, over 1,900 refugees have been settled into the City. Harrisonburg City Public Schools students speak 55 different languages with English, Spanish, Arabic, and Kurdish being the most common.

Within the Harrisonburg City Public School system are five elementary schools, two middle schools, and a high school. Harrisonburg is also home to two university campuses – James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University. James Madison is a public research university with an enrollment of over 21,000 students and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) is a private, Mennonite-affiliated liberal arts university with an enrollment of 1,880 students.

Harrisonburg has been a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community since 2011 and is dedicated to adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities throughout the community, making it attractive to walkers, runners, and cyclists alike. Miles of trails and sidewalks make it a walkable and bike-friendly community.


The expected hiring range is $115,000 – $125,000 depending on qualifications, with an excellent benefits package.

How to Apply

Apply Online

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group at and will be kept confidential. Applicants first complete a brief online form and then are prompted to provide one document (Word or PDF) that has a cover letter, resume with salary history, and a list of 3-5 professional references. Open until filled with first review of applications on June 8, 2018.


Please direct questions to Catherine Tuck Parrish or Jenn Reichelt at or 513-221-0500.

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