Henrico welcomes home Eric English as police chief

—Longtime resident brings more than 30 years of law enforcement experience to the position

Henrico County has appointed Eric D. English as chief of police, effective Monday, Sept. 14.

English, who has headed the police department for the city of Harrisonburg since 2018, was introduced at an Aug. 24 news conference that also saluted outgoing Chief Humberto “Hum” Cardounel Jr. Cardounel is retiring Aug. 28 after more than four years in the position and a career of nearly 32 years with the Henrico Police Division.

Flanked by a pair of “Welcome Home, Chief!” banners, County Manager John A. Vithoulkas highlighted English’s ties to Henrico — he is a 30-year resident of the county; he is a graduate of the University of Richmond; he has been a youth basketball coach and official in the area for many years; and his two children attended Henrico County Public Schools.   

“Make no mistake, [English] is a product of Henrico,” Vithoulkas said. “We couldn’t be happier to bring him home.”

English comes to Henrico with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, ranging from patrol to command staff. He served with the Richmond Police Department from 1989 to 2018, rising through the ranks to become deputy chief of operations in 2011 and deputy chief of support and business services in 2016. He was named Harrisonburg’s chief of police in September 2018. 

As leader of the Henrico Police Division, English will oversee an agency with 863 personnel, including more than 600 sworn officers, and a budget of $80.3 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Among its responsibilities, HPD provides law enforcement, investigates criminal activity, operates the county’s emergency communications center and offers educational programs on drug awareness, crime prevention and other topics for the community.

HPD is internationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The division is one of 17 law enforcement agencies worldwide to receive CALEA’s TRI-ARC award and was named a “Best for Vets” employer by Military Times magazine in 2019. HPD has earned first place for Best Traffic Safety Program for 15 consecutive years in the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Challenge.

“As a county, we were determined to find someone who would be up to the task on day one — someone with the experience, judgment, skill set and temperament to lead a comprehensive Police Division like ours,” Vithoulkas said. “There is a very strong base in this division. I told the chief he is being handed the keys to a Ferrari.”

English said it is a blessing to be coming home and leading a law enforcement agency with which he is familiar.  

“I am very excited to be working with the men and women of the Henrico Police Division,” he said. “There are a lot of talented individuals in this agency. I want to try to enhance what we’ve already been doing.”

English said that getting to know the community, building trust and building partnerships are key.

“It is important for me to come here and listen. I don’t have all the answers,” he said. “It’s important for me to listen to this staff, to the citizens of this county and to our stakeholders.

“All of those factors will be important in making sure we can resolve the issues we are dealing with in society today,” he said. “We all play a part — it is not just policing. Our community and our stakeholders play a part. We can only do this together.” 

English earned a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and sociology from the University of Richmond (UR) and received a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. He played basketball for UR and was a member of the Spiders’ Sweet Sixteen team of 1988.

English attended the Senior Management Institute for Police and is a certified law enforcement instructor. He is a member of the International and Virginia associations of Chiefs of Police and is president of the central Virginia chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

He and his wife have two adult children and two grandchildren.

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