Washington police chief stepping down

January 31, 2013
Washington police Chief Robert Lemons Jr.

The police chief of Washington announced Thursday he is stepping down from the post he has held for 13 months and returning to his former rank of lieutenant.

Chief Robert Lemons Jr. said he made the decision to return to his former role as shift supervisor of a patrol unit for personal reasons. Today is his last day as chief of the 31-member department and he will return Monday as a lieutenant.

“I appreciate the opportunity,” Lemons said Thursday in announcing his decision. “I was happy to be able to serve the residents and businesses for the last 13 months.”

Mayor Brenda Davis said she learned of Lemons’ decision Wednesday.

“We sat down late Wednesday and went through his reasons,” Davis said Thursday night. “It is what he wants and I respect his decision.

“He displayed outstanding character as the chief,” the mayor added. “He brought new ideas for the department. He was a good chief.”

As chief, Lemons increased the presence of patrol officers not only in the business area, but neighborhoods. Officers were encouraged to walk a beat, as well as patrol in their cruisers.

Lemons joined the force in 1992 and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2011.

When contacted Thursday, Councilman Joe Manning said he was “shocked” by the announcement and said he knew nothing about it.

Since the announcement was so sudden, Davis said she wants to take her time and evaluate the position before making a decision on Lemons’ successor.

“I will evaluate the appointment so I can make the proper decision,” Davis said. “I will look at all options and make a decision that is best for the city. This is a very important decision for the city. It has to be the right fit.”

Davis has not yet decided how she will approach filling the vacancy. In making her initial appointment, Davis asked for letters of interest from eligible officers. When asked if she would look outside the department, Davis reiterated she would do what is best for the city.

Capt. Robert Wilson will serve as officer in charge of the department until Davis makes a decision on the new chief.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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