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Furr retiring as Front Royal police chief

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Richard Furr


By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Chief Richard H. Furr announced Friday he plans to retire Aug. 28, ending a 30-year career with the town Police Department that began as a patrol officer.

"It has been a dream come true and an honor for me to serve in this position beside the great men and women of the department," Furr said in a written announcement. "I have delayed my retirement for the past five years for this opportunity, and I feel that God has richly blessed me for it. I now plan to spend some more time with my wife and family, catch up on my "honey-do" list, and do some traveling."

Furr, 55, said in an interview that several major events affecting family members caused him to take stock of his own life in the last few weeks. The death of his father in February and the graduation of his daughter from college Sunday were among several of the factors he cited.

"These were kind of thought provoking events," he said.

Other town officials praised Furr and wished him well.

Mayor Timothy Darr said Furr spoke to him earlier this week about his retirement plans.

"I'm happy for him that he and wife are going to travel and enjoy his life," Darr said. "He's been a great public servant, and I'm just tickled to death he's taken the opportunity to realize there's more to life than just work."

Town manager Steve Burke described his working relationship with Furr as "outstanding."

"It's always been important to me to trust the people I work with, and I trust Chief Furr fully and respected all his decisions in operating the Police Department," Burke said.

Furr's wife, Ruth, was with him at police headquarters Friday, one of the few times she has visited the station during his career.

She declined to describe her reaction to his impending retirement, but then she added: "He's the one who had to determine it was time. A couple of people would say I was harassing him about it, but not really."

Furr said the department has reached 10 of the 12 goals he set for it when he became chief in April 2009. They include:

• Maintaining services through a recession that has threatened funding for the department.

• Reducing turnover among patrol officers.

• Reorganization of administrative staff.

• Increasing community policing initiatives.

The two goals not reached -- earning re-accreditation from the state and a revised pay scale for officers -- "may be on the horizon" he said.

Furr said he was within a few days of retiring from the department five years ago but was persuaded to stay by former Police Chief Ronald Williamson and former Town Manager Michael Graham after they disclosed that Williamson was nearing retirement. Both men asked him to consider applying for chief when the time came, although no promises were made, Furr said.

Furr joined the force in 1982 as patrol officer after stints as a correctional officer at Powhatan Correctional Center and as a patrol officer in Elkton.

He worked his way up through the ranks to sergeant, deputy chief and captain. He was had been interim chief for four months at the time of his appointment as permanent chief in 2009. He was the first member of the department to be honored as "police officer of the year" at the time of the program's inception in 1987.

Furr said he hopes his successor will be chosen from within the department, adding that grooming "the next leaders in this department" has been one of his goals. He also cited the trust and respect the department has gained among town residents as another reason for choosing someone from inside.

"They feel the department is professional, we're out here to do our job, and we're doing it well," he said, adding "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."




17 Comments



Not to bad mouth Chief Furr's career in Law Enforcement, I honestly respect that, but..... The above article states that Chief Furr said one of the 10 out of 12 Depertmental Goals that he was able to reach was "Reducing turnover among patrol officers". Really? I think Chief Furr should have one of his Administrators or Assistants verify this fact before releasing it to the public. A very recent article in the NVD 4/24/12 "Council furthers discussion on funding officer retention program" seems to prove the abovve incorrect.
The following is just an excerpt... "Development of the program seemed necessary to the Department after four officers left Front Royal to join twoother local Sheriff's Office agancies"
"According to a problem statement written by Deputy Chief Mark Werner......." Now I could be wrong, but it wounds like either Chier Furr had no idea what is going on with his Department, or maybe Deputy Chief Mark Werner is incorrect.... Either way, it looks like it is time for a change. Good luck to Chief Furr in his retirement and thank you for your dedication to Law Enforcement and the Community.

Let's not forget 30 years ago Furr was one of the first police officers on the scene after Front Royal Police Sergeant Dennis M. Smedley was shot in the back as he left for work around 6 a.m. the morning of Sept. 20, 1983.

The murder remains unsolved.

If you look into the history of the Front Royal Police Department, you would understand that the department has a history of training officers who then leave for higher paying jobs or better benefits in other nearby jurisdictions. We have lost fewer officers over the past three years up until recently. Again, we lost 4 officers to higher pay and take-home vehicles. One officer retired and one left for family medical reasons. With the recently approved MPO program, we hope to better compete to keep our experienced officers. So yes, I do consider that as a goal that was reached.

As for CaCaToRy, I find your comment offensive. Yes, I was one of the first officers on the scene that morning and I still grieve the loss of a good friend, supervisor, and law enforcement officer. This is not the forum to debate the issues of that event, but I do remind you and others that the FOP still offers a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever committed that cowardly crime. If you have information, put up or shut up!

If you look into the history of the Front Royal Police Department, you would understand that the department has a record of being a training ground where we train officers who then leave for higher paying jobs or better benefits in other nearby jurisdictions. We have lost fewer officers over the past three years. However because of the economy, we recently lost 4 officers to higher pay and take-home vehicles. Additionally, one officer retired and one left for family medical reasons. With the recently approved MPO program, which will promote career development along with financial incentives, we hope to better compete with nearby jurisdictions to keep our experienced officers. So yes, I do consider that as a goal that was reached.

As for CaCaToRy, I find your comment offensive. Yes, I was one of the first officers on the scene that morning and I still grieve the loss of a good friend, supervisor, and law enforcement officer. This is not the forum to debate the issues of that event, but I do remind you and others that the FOP still offers a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever committed that cowardly crime. If you have information, put up or shut up!

Chief Furr - you should have known better than to enter into a debate with anonymous posters on this site. I too was offended by the remarks, but trying to debate things here usually isn't productive for a department head. Thank you for your service, and enjoy your retirement!

Chief Furr, thanks for 30 years of dedicated service to Front Royal and your efforts to make Front Royal a safer place to visit, work, and live.
I've seen very little change during your leadership except we now have a motorcycle officer who is entirely too passionate about writing tickets. 'The fair-haired boy' of the department carries himself with an air of arrogance and treats the public with disdain. Good choice!
I sincerely hope someone from outside the department is hired for the next chief. A retired Fairfax County officer would doubtless be a good selection. They are accustomed to discipline, a department that is an example of fine police work and goal oriented.
Since Front Royal employed the services of a retired Fairfax County officer several years ago as an advisor and chose to ignore his advice making one of them one of us would doubtless improve the department.

Not to bash the Fairfax County Police Department, but why is it that adding the words "Fairfax County" suddenly makes things two degrees hotter, more experienced, and ten points smarter? Officers in this area are able to do the same things; however, they do it with less equipment, less manpower and less money. Dealing with situations in that manner tends to create a more naturally experienced and well rounded officer, something Fairfax can't offer. Dont get me wrong, FCPD is highly respected, but you dont have to come from a huge agency to operate as a professional. Administering a 40 officer department is much different than handling a 1600 officer department. More doesn't necessarily translate to better qualified.

If you want Fairfax, 66 will take you straight there. I'm so sick of these locals and transplants trying to turn our wonderful valley into a mini-NoVa. If it was so great, then why did most of yall leave?

Well said Rusty, though we welcome all that come here to our valley, do not try to turn it into what you are leaving. There are plenty of good qualified people that choose not to work in Fairfax. Thank you Chief Furr for your service!

Well said Rusty, though we welcome all that come here to our valley, do not try to turn it into what you are leaving. There are plenty of good qualified people that choose not to work in Fairfax. Thank you Chief Furr for your service!

King Rusty has spoken. Hail to the king of one-liners!

Like it or not, the population has increased drastically and things do change. And with it has come all the garbage fast-food joints and big box stores, as our natural resources disappear.

Personally I hate to see our river destroyed by chicken farms and other ill use of the land. The Shenandoah River is being polluted with this run-off and toxic waste.

Virginia is already the largest IMPORTER of trash as the landfills continue to grow. There are many problems that go unseen by the masses. Exploitation and greed is here and we are ripe for the picking.

Farewell Chief Furr, I never met you and know nothing about you, but I know crime is an ever-growing problem. Certainly more law enforcement will be needed and I see no end in sight. . .

Having served in several roles in my 25 years with the Fairfax County Police Department I feel qualified to answer the question "why go outside of the Front Royal Police Department to select the next chief of police."
The trickle down theory. Larger departments that have either dealt with or are preparing for scenarios train personnel which is EVENTUALLY presented to smaller departments on an as needed basis decided by their department administration. Growing up in the Valley and then working in a progressive nearby county doesn't make one a foreigner. Ignorance is bliss. Those who make such assumptions should definitely not serve on a jury.

The only thing about a Fairfax County officer that stands out among other departments is his pay stub.

i agree 100%

Chief Furr, I remember the murder and it seems to me with a police officer with the reputation he had, ONLY a fellow LEO could have gotten that close to him that tragic morning. JMHO on that incident.

Rusty, It is very interesting that these folk move here to "get out of the city" only to come here and create the same problems they hated and wanted to move away from.

to those fairfax and DC city folk, thanks for nothing



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