A veteran Washington police detective was promoted to chief Tuesday in what the mayor hopes will bring a steady hand to the city’s embattled police department.
Chris Luppino, who has been a city police officer for 18 years, was hired as the new police chief by Mayor Brenda Davis after months of disagreements and surprise resignations by the department’s highest-ranking officers.
Davis said she settled on Luppino, 41, because he lives in the city and has extensive experience with the department and its 31 officers. She added it was the only application she received in the past month.
“He displays the leadership attributes needed to move this department forward,” Davis said. “Chris has had a stellar career in the department.”
The promotion apparently came together quickly after Luppino submitted his resume to be considered for the full-time position when Capt. Robert Wilson abruptly retired last week, leaving the department without its highest-ranking officer. Robert Lemons Jr. stepped down from the position of chief in January to return to his former job as lieutenant. Lt. Dan Stanek was tapped as “officer in charge” on April 30.
Luppino said he and the mayor had “very good discussions” in the past week before he accepted the position Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m honored,” Luppino said. “I’m committed to this department and committed to moving it forward.”
He said he planned to spend the first few weeks “getting everything on track” and fully staffing the department.
The relationship between the officers and mayor has been strained in recent weeks, prompting the police union representative to ask Washington City Council to remove Davis as the department’s head. Luppino declined to comment about that situation and said it was time for everyone to move on from the past problems. He said he received support from his fellow officers immediately after the promotion was finalized.
Davis called the past few months “unfortunate” and said both she and the department need the community’s support to move forward.
“My goal has always been to do what is in the best interest for the city of Washington,” Davis said.
Luppino grew up in South Strabane Township and graduated from Trinity High School in 1989. He later attended Kent State University for two years before enrolling in the police academy. He has been a police officer for 22 years and moved to Washington after taking a job with the city’s police department in 1995.