Local News

Knightdale police chief steps down following arrest

Posted July 28, 2008 12:43 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2008 10:57 p.m. EDT

— The town of Knightdale has accepted police Chief Richard Nelson Pope's request for early retirement, Mayor Russell Killen said during a news conference Monday afternoon.

The decision, effective immediately, comes following the early-Monday arrest of Pope, 49, of 567 Mailman Road, who was charged with one count of assault on a female following a domestic dispute with his estranged wife.

Kimberly Smith Pope, 38, of 923 Costmary Road, his ex-wife, was also charged with one count of simple assault.

Reading from a prepared statement, Killen said the police chief "greatly regrets the incident and the embarrassment that it has caused both his family and the town."

In a 911 call released Monday afternoon, Pope tells the operator his ex-wife "just came in and wrecked my house."

She is yelling in the background, and at one point, screams: "Don't grab me. Leave me alone. Quit grabbing my arm, Ricky Pope."

"I need somebody here quick," Kimberly Pope says in another 911 call, adding that she has locked herself in her car out in her ex-husband's driveway.

"I've got marks on my arms and stuff, where he hit me," she says.

Kimberly Pope also tells the 911 dispatcher she walked in on her ex-husband with another woman.

She told WRAL News the woman was another town employee, and Killen said the city attorney is looking into whether any policies have been violated.

Pope, whose annual salary was $85,470, was hired to the Knightdale police force on Oct. 11, 1979, and was promoted to police chief on March 6, 2006. His retirement is effective immediately, but it is unclear whether he will be entitled to full retirement benefits.

He had plans to retire later this year, but Killen said the decision to accelerate it was a mutual agreement.

"It was a solution to the situation we found ourselves in," he said.

Killen said an interim police chief would be named within a few days and the search would begin soon thereafter for a new police chief.

"Chief Pope served the citizens of Knightdale well for over 25 years," Killen said. "We are all disappointed that his tenure with the Knightdale Public Safety Department has ended in this fashion, but we are all glad that the town and Chief Pope can move forward from this point."