Durham police chief wins national honor

Posted November 3, 2008 4:38 p.m. EST

— Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez has received the 2008 Law Enforcement Leadership Award from the National Latino Peace Officers Association.

“I am very proud and honored to receive this award. I hope it inspires other younger officers to pursue a leadership career,” Lopez said.

The award was presented to Lopez by Louis Quijas, retired assistant director of the FBI and former chief of the High Point Police Department, during the NLPOA’s 35th annual convention last week in Denver. Quijas was the first Latino police chief in North Carolina, and Lopez is the second.

Lopez became Durham’s police chief in September 2007 after serving more than 23 years with the Hartford, Conn., Police Department, where he retired as assistant chief. During his career in Hartford, Lopez was the first Latino officer to reach every rank from sergeant to assistant chief and the first Latino officer to manage several different divisions and units.

“Coming into the law enforcement profession nearly 30 years ago, there was not a lot of Latino representation in policing, never mind in management. I didn’t have anyone to mentor me, and many said it was impossible for a Latino to rise to the level of chief,” Lopez said.