HPD Chief explains goals, addresses concerns at town hall forum

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — On Monday night, Chief Eric English hosted a public meeting to introduce himself, discuss goals for the police department, and address concerns from the community.

The public meeting, held at Thomas Harrison Middle School, focused heavily on police engagement and partnerships with the community.

"One thing I always say about law enforcement is that we can't do it without the citizens," said Chief English. "We need your input, we need your help, and we need your assistance."

English, who served as chief deputy of police for eight years in Richmond, said there are several things on his list of goals, including reviewing policy, reaching full accreditation within a year, and mental health training.

In response to the uptick in mental health cases in Harrisonburg, Chief English has enforced mandatory Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for all HPD personnel.

"If I leave my office and walk downtown, I can run into somebody having a mental health crisis," said English. "I need to know how to handle that situation."

The Chief also emphasized the importance of youth engagement, monthly community walks, and peer support groups within the department.

This public meeting comes two weeks after English released body cam footage of a controversial officer involved tazing, which resulted in an uproar on social media and a protest on Court Square.

English said releasing the video was an effort to promote transparency in the Community, and he encourages citizens to bring any concerns to his attention.