HPD Chief Eric English to field questions from residents at Monday’s town hall forum

By Andrew Jenner

On Monday evening, Chief Eric English will introduce himself, take questions and discuss policing in Harrisonburg during a public meeting at Thomas Harrison Middle School.

“A lot of people still have not met me,” said English, who was sworn in as Harrisonburg’s police chief last September. “I’ll talk about my philosophy and some things that we’ve already implemented, [as well as] things I’m looking to do going forward.”

The event, hosted by the Northeast Neighborhood Association, will take place from 6-8pm on Monday, Jan. 7.

It’s a habit English brought with him from the Richmond Police Department, where he served for nearly three decades, rose to deputy chief, and participated in community meetings held in different parts of the city. English plans to continue periodically holding such events in Harrisonburg in the future.

Among his goals for the evening, English said, is that members of the public “come away with a knowledge of where I’m trying to go with the department.” He also hopes the audience learns more about opportunities for partnering with police to make the city safer, and offers suggestions about how the department could improve.

Monday’s meeting, which English has been planning since taking the job in Harrisonburg, is not a specific response to last month’s controversy over the tasing of a woman in her apartment, where police had initially responded to a noise complaint. After cell phone video of the incident began circulating and a protest on Court Square, English released body camera footage of the incident and stood behind his officers.

Melissa Duncan, the woman who was tased, was initially held without bond but was released on Dec. 21 on a $15,000 bond. She faces two felony counts of assaulting a police officer, with a court date scheduled for February.

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