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UPDATED: Roanoke City Police Joe Gaskins to retire

May 12, 2010
  • Chief Joe Gaskins (Roanoke City Photo)
Chief Joe Gaskins (Roanoke City Photo)

UPDATED: 10:40 p.m.

Whether he likes to admit it or not, Roanoke's Police Chief has sometimes been a lighting rod over the years and Thursday night he reluctantly responded to his critics.

Chief Joe Gaskins came to Roanoke from Newport News back in March of 1998.

He announced on Wednesday that he's retiring at the end of June.

He told News 7 that he is retiring because it's time for him to go. 

A national search will begin immediately to find his successor but on Thursday, we looked back on his career in Roanoke that saw both praise and protest.

Joe Gaskins attended his last Law Enforcement Memorial as Roanoke's Police Chief and after the service, we asked him what's his biggest accomplishment in the twelve years as chief.

Gaskins answered, "The thing I'm most proud of the people I've had the opportunity to work with to help them realize their potential."

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Gaskins is credited with helping the department attain national re-accreditation.

He implemented community policing and he created the Roanoke Citizen Police academy.

During his tenure, the department also moved into a new police headquarters and more recently a new police training academy.

Gaskins was known as a behind the scenes kind of chief but he sometimes received criticism for being too low key.

"I realize I'm no different from any other person in each person someone will find the criticism so if that's the worst thing that I've ever done or I've been criticized for I'm not so bad off" said Gaskins. 

Another criticism the chief received is over whether there are gangs here in Roanoke. Chief Gaskins didn't like that word which led some to believe he felt there weren't actual gangs here in the city. On the contrary, he didn't want to use the word because he felt like it legitimized them.

He said he felt the story was "absolutely overblown."

But it was enough for city council to request a meeting back in 2006 to discuss the gang issue.

On Thursday, current members of council including the mayor had nothing but praise for the chief.

"I've always found he was in the community enough. During the time that I've been back in the mayor's office, I have not heard that criticism. I don't share that criticism" said Roanoke Mayor David Bowers.

Gaskins says the hiring of Roanoke's new city manager played no part in his decision to retire.

As far as the future goes, he said he plans to travel some and possibly do some consulting work.

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Roanoke's police chief is retiring.  After 12 years leading the department, Chief Joe Gaskins is stepping down.

"It's just time.  I've decided to," said Gaskins.

"No big reason?," asked News7's Justin McLeod.

"No, none whatsoever.  I am going to spend more time with my mom, my kids and Jackie," said Gaskins.

He came to Roanoke in 1998.  City leaders say he's a chief who believed effective policing came by connecting to local neighborhoods.

"He's asked his police officers to attend every neighborhood association meeting. He's gone to churches. He's gone to fish fry's, pot luck dinners. He's been very effective in working with the community," said Rupert Cutler, member of Roanoke City Council. 

"I think Chief Gaskins, leading from the top has made a huge impact on the way, the way police deal with the community, and the way those police become a part of the community.," said Court Rosen, member of Roanoke City Council. 

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Updated: Thursday 8:45 a.m.

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