Local News

Durham Makes Conn. Cop Its New Police Chief

Posted July 19, 2007

— Jose Lopez Sr., an assistant police chief in Hartford, Conn., was named Thursday as the new police chief in Durham.

Lopez, who was introduced at a morning news conference, said he was humbled and at a loss for words about being picked for the job.

He will start his new position Sept. 1 and replace Chief Steve Chalmers, who will retire at the end of the year. Lopez's annual salary will be $125,000.

The new chief quickly met with favor Thursday when he announced during the news conference that he planned to move the police department forward and put the flawed Duke University lacrosse team sexual assault investigation in the past.

"I don't really believe the city of Durham is defined by Duke lacrosse and neither is this esteemed police department," Lopez said.

An independent panel plans to begin reviewing the police department's investigation of the notorious case on Friday.

City Manager Patrick Baker said selecting Lopez was a tough decision, but he was the best person for the job and the best choice for the community.

Baker said Lopez was selected because of his stance on community policing. He said Lopez has a reputation for being out on the street with the cops and community.

Baker said one of his top priorities for Lopez will be to improve the clearance rate on overall crime. He said Durham police have improved their clearance rate to better than the national average in recent years, but he wants more crimes solved.

Lopez was selected after a seven-month search process. He has served in Hartford for more than 22 years and has worked as an investigator with the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, which is the state attorney general's department and includes the New Jersey State Police and other law enforcement agencies.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Lopez holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, with a minor in police science, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, according to the Hartford Police Department's Web site.

He also served in the U.S. Air Force as a law enforcement specialist and received an honorable discharge in 1980.

Lopez was one of three finalists for the job including Durham Deputy Police Chief Ronald Hodge.


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  • Nancy Jul 20, 2007

    "Nancy, I was very disappointed in the justice system with Nifong. He even got to go out the way he wanted. He got his July retirement date. Hudson and cronies gave it to him. Not surprised about the handling of the casework, but didn't know that. Thanks for the info."

    I look forward to Nifong's criminal hearing next. Let's see if the judge will be as forgiving as hudson was.

  • evilelvi11 Jul 20, 2007

    you will never win...talk about school systems, its "your" school system. what you typed (you're) means "you are school systems". I learned that in a southern elementary school. that sentence of yours is the ultimate in foolishness.

    as far as Durham's police chief goes, the lacrosse situation has reached a satisfactory conclusion, with the innocent cleared and the man responsible (nifong)getting his just punishment. our new police chief needs to focus on the REAL shame and major problem facing Durham...the gang issue. If he can do that, he's got my support.

  • Aconcernedhuman Jul 20, 2007

    DURHAM, where's that?
    Ohh yeah you know the guys accused of sexually assulting a striper.
    Oh yeah the ones who got away with it on a technicality.
    Come on Durham going to always be known for that for years just like OJ simpson, Vick on the Falcons, Mike Tyson and the bitting of the ear, Hell their still talking about the Princess Diana, Michael Jordon all high profile BS

  • scal Jul 19, 2007

    Guess southerners are finally realizing that in order for them to fix things, they have to hire a Yankee to show them how it's done. LOL! Better get some Yankee's in here to fix you're school system while you're at it.

  • EGH3 Jul 19, 2007

    Throw me the whip,the original americam indian are not illegal immigration we were here when the white man came to american,so the whites are illegals just as the hispanic,not us the indian.

  • choppa Jul 19, 2007

    MarcoPolo, I guess I can't talk you into it huh? LOL

  • MarcoPolo Jul 19, 2007

    Nancy, I was very disappointed in the justice system with Nifong. He even got to go out the way he wanted. He got his July retirement date. Hudson and cronies gave it to him. Not surprised about the handling of the casework, but didn't know that. Thanks for the info.

  • MarcoPolo Jul 19, 2007

    Another City-Sponsored, taxpayer party- WOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOO!! A chance to duck drive-by bullets. Yeah- count on me. Just what Durham needs another "healing" event. Good luck to ya.

  • Nancy Jul 19, 2007

    Marco Polo - when the DA controls the court calendar, decides which cases are priority and chooses which judge will hear a case, it sort of screws up any priority system in moving serious cases to trial.

    Like the quadruple murder case. The DNA sat on a shelf, untested, for several months. Then the claim of rape by a stripper was made and Nifong decided to fast track that case for personal gain. One of the poor fathers of one of the four killed had to plea to the media for their case to move forward.

    It didn't happen until Nifong was on his way out the door. But Nifong fast tracked the excessive (46+ samples) DNA testing through SBI and when he didn't get what he wanted out of that, he got a judge to agree to pay for another round of DNA testing on the same at a private lab.

    Too much power in the hands of the DA.

  • choppa Jul 19, 2007

    MarcoPolo, I guess I won't be seeing you tomorrow night at BrightLeaf Square's Friday night summer concert. Darn! LOL.