Durango Police Chief Kamran Afzal has accepted a job in Hopewell, Virginia, marking the end of his short tenure with the Durango Police Department.
Afzal, from Pakistan by way of Springfield, Virginia, started with the Durango Police Department in April 2017 with an aim to make law enforcement more engaged with the community. He is not leaving the department because of the budget woes the city is facing, Afzal said in an interview with The Durango Herald; rather, he wants to be closer to his family on the East Coast.
“The whole thing is because of my personal situation,” he said from Virginia. “It’s bittersweet. I’m glad to be back with the family, but I’m sad to leave Durango.”
Afzal was named one of three candidates for a similar job in Syracuse, New York, late last month. He said the idea of a new job came about last year after his family decided not to move from Virginia to Durango as planned.
City Manager Ron LeBlanc said he has known of Afzal’s intended departure for months. The two had talked about how Afzal’s family couldn’t move here and the hardship that created for Afzal.
“He tried to make it work, but it’s not feasible to have your family 2,500 miles away,” LeBlanc said.
Afzal replaced Jim Spratlan, who retired in September 2016 after being police chief for five years. Afzal’s last day with the department will be Dec. 1, he said.
The police chief said he is proudest of the community engagement he has initiated in the department. When he started with the agency, Afzal created a community engagement unit with officers dedicated to working with residents.
He said he is also proud of the strategic plan he helped implement, something LeBlanc said would be intertwined with the process to hire a new chief. LeBlanc said he has had meetings with command staff and rank-and-file employees about what qualities are most desired in a police chief.
The conversations LeBlanc has had with police will help him determine who will be a good fit as interim chief and what officers are looking for in a police chief.
“We’re losing an articulate, very experienced law enforcement official who is a good decision-maker,” LeBlanc said. “He’s someone with a good sense of humor.”