JAMES CITY COUNTY — There’s a new face in charge of the James City County Police Department (JCCPD). On May 18, the JCCPD selected Eric Peterson as the new police chief, effectively immediately.
According to a news release from James City County (JCC), Peterson recently served as the Division Commander of the police department’s Support Services Division, with over 26 years of experience in public safety.
Before becoming a police officer, Peterson served for over 22 years in the United States Army and Army Reserve, retiring as an E-8, First Sergeant. He also earned a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from St. Leo University.
Peterson is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy #277 and the University of Richmond’s Professional Executive Leadership School. Describing himself as a homebody, Peterson enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.
What inspired Peterson to pursue a career as a police officer started when he was a small child. His elementary school had a local officer who inspired Peterson by fostering a close-knit community relationship.
“The school was part of his beat, and he made it a point to visit the school everyday,” he said in an interview with WYDaily. “He took us under his wing.”
When it comes to his leadership plans for JCCPD, Peterson takes a note out of this very officer’s book, focusing on strengthening community relationships and re-establishing residents’ trust in the police force.
He plans on increasing levels of activities with kids and seniors while collaborating with multidisciplinary organizations to improve community services, such as effectively handling of situations involving homelessness and mental disabilities.
Peterson, who has been a local for 26 years, said that he carries a card in his wallet at all times that states the values of JCC.
In an age where activist groups are calling for the defunding of police departments across the nation in response to police brutality against marginalized communities, Peterson’s transition into the role of police chief comes at a key time.
As Congress addresses more legislation relating to police reform, Peterson is taking his role as the head of the police department very seriously.
“I want to make sure we have a culture of accountability and transparency,” he said.
To keep cultivating a positive and effective culture in the JCCPD, Peterson said he plans on increasing training to build up communication skills and de-escalation tactics.
“There may be a negative situation that we’re responding to, but we can do our part to resolve it and end it on a positive note,” he said. He added looking into the type of officers the department recruits is also a key factor, saying he also has experience in recruiting.
Overall, Peterson has one message for the community. “I want this to be a place where people feel comfortable coming to the police. I want them to feel welcomed when they come to the police department.”
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