New Rocky Mount police chief named | Govt and Politics

ROCKY MOUNT — A captain with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will take over as chief of the Rocky Mount Police Department in August.

Near the end of the Rocky Mount Town Council’s Monday evening meeting, Town Manager Robert Wood announced that Phillip Young will be filling the police chief position.

“Right now the plan is that he will start on or about Aug. 15,” Wood said.

Young, who will be paid $104,624 in his new position, is a lifelong Franklin County resident and has been with the sheriff’s office for 24 years. Before joining the sheriff’s office as a patrol deputy, Young served as a police officer — and later police chief — for the Ferrum College Police Department.

He has held several roles at the sheriff’s office, including field training officer, school resource officer, professional standards sergeant and administrative lieutenant.

“He [Young] spent 12 years on the Emergency Response Team with much of that time spent as a designated marksman. Most of his leadership experience has been in dealing with hiring, budget, internal affairs and FOIA,” a Tuesday statement from the sheriff’s office said. “Captain Young has served as the accreditation manager for the office, overseeing the initial accreditation of the department as well as the first and second re-accreditations through the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.”

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Young has a bachelor’s degree in management and leadership from Bluefield College, where he graduated with honors, and a criminal justice graduate certificate from the University of Virginia.

“He is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, Session 262, as well as the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Associations Supervisor, Command and Executive Leadership Institutes,” the sheriff’s office statement said.

Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton Jr. mentioned Young at Monday’s school board meeting.

“I’m thankful that we’ll have a wonderful relationship with him,” Overton said.

Monday’s announcement marks the end of a 10-month search for a new Rocky Mount police chief.

“We’ve been searching for a new police chief for some time,” Wood said. “We had over 20 applications come into the Berkley Group who helped us with that process.”

Young will take over the chief duties from Capt. Mark Lovern, who has served as the department’s interim police chief since the early September retirement of former chief Ken Criner.

Criner retired in 2021 after more than 30 years in law enforcement, roughly a decade of which was spent at the Rocky Mount Police Department. Criner became police chief in 2014.

In 2020, four police department employees filed federal discrimination complaints against the town. Three of those same employees also filed complaints with the town about Criner, alleging a hostile work environment and disparaging, profane comments made about subordinates.

Criner was placed on administrative leave for five weeks in spring 2020 in response to the complaints filed with the town. Criner spent two of those weeks on unpaid leave.

A month after Criner’s retirement in 2021, a former Rocky Mount police officer filed a lawsuit claiming he was forced out of his job after defending and trying to help employees who Criner allegedly harassed.

That lawsuit was settled in May, but another filed in February by a person claiming harassment, Regina Stanley, is slated for a jury trial in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke starting May 1, 2023.

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