Local News

Raleigh police chief says retirement comes at 'right time'

Posted September 26, 2012 11:29 a.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2012 7:21 p.m. EDT

— With his retirement date less than a week away, Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said Wednesday that he’s ending a 32-year career in law enforcement at the “right time” for the Raleigh Police Department.

“These people are ready,” Dolan said of other Raleigh police leaders. “When you see the talent here and commitment to training, I think they will do extraordinarily well.”

Dolan, 54, announced his plans to retire in August after serving as Raleigh’s top cop for five years.

“I talked to (Raleigh City Manager) Russell Allen several months ago,” Dolan said. “I had early on considered a five-year commitment. I’m going to miss the blue-and-white police car, the every day. I’m the second-grader who always wanted to be a police officer, and I got to do that.”

In an August memo announcing his intentions to step aside, Dolan praised the “pride and professionalism” of department staff, retirees and alumni, saying those traits set the department apart.

“Raleigh PD has never been about the bricks and mortar, it’s been about training, hiring and retaining great people,” Dolan said Wednesday.

Dolan replaced former Chief Jane Perlov in September 2007, arriving in Raleigh after serving nine years as the police chief for the Grand Rapids Police Department in Michigan. Dolan's career includes a stint as a Raleigh officer for five years, from 1982 to 1987, and roles with the North Carolina Department of Human Resources Police Department in Black Mountain and as chief of the Lumberton Police Department.

During Dolan's tenure as chief, Raleigh's crime rate dropped from 4,300 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2007 to 3,781 crimes per 100,000 people last year – a decrease larger than the statewide trend.

“Five years ago, we had close to 100 vacancies, and without the ability to add new positions, the net loss in the field was quite significant,” he said. “We filled the vacancies, and now our recruiters have become more like talent scouts.”

In the memo announcing his retirement, Dolan emphasized the positive, but his tenure was not without turmoil.

In July, he came under fire for a change to how the department evaluates employees and for the expense of a training trip for police lieutenants.

In July 2011, Dolan fired Sgt. Rick Armstrong, who was president of the Raleigh Police Protective Association, on allegations he had sex while on duty. Armstrong denied the accusation and filed suit against the city and Dolan to get his job back. That suit is still pending.

“Criticism is part of my job,” Dolan said. “I’ve never had an extended period of time where there wasn’t stress. Having to implement challenging things is part and parcel to the position.”

Although he said Wednesday he doesn’t have concrete plans for his retirement, Dolan says he wants to train police officers.