Report: Chris Magnus accepts Tucson police chief position

Outgoing Richmond police chief responds to recent uptick in gun violence

Chris Magnus has accepted an offer to become the police chief for the city of Tucson, a spokesperson for the Arizona city told a local TV news station.

After a nationwide search, Magnus became one of two finalists to replace outgoing Chief Roberto Villasenor.  Over the weekend, however, the other top candidate, Dallas Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, removed his name from consideration, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Tucson City Council will hold a vote on Magnus Tuesday, said Lane Mandle, a spokesperson for the Tucscon City Manager.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt and City Manager Bill Lindsay are aware of the news report.

“We have not yet heard directly from Chief Magnus, and will provide more information when we receive it,” Butt said in his e-forum newsletter.

Magnus has been with the Richmond Police Department since 2006. His departure would certainly break hearts in a community that credits the police chief with improved relations between residents and police and a steep decline in crime. In 2003, there were a total of 9,026 property and violent crimes in Richmond, according to police data. Under Magnus in 2008, there were 6,712 and then 5,464 in 2013.

Last year, Richmond’s homicide total of 11 was the city’s lowest since 1971, and a far cry from the 47 homicides in 2009.

Magnus’ reputation for building better relationships between law enforcement and the community received national attention. Last year, he was summoned by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist in a high-profile investigation related to racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Magnus has said he is open to a new challenge, and that may be provided in a larger police department. The police chief of Tucson oversees 942 sworn officers and about 300 civilian personnel, while by contract RPD has just under 200 sworn officers.

Members of a citizen’s panel in Tucson believe Magnus has big ideas that have proven to work in Richmond. Eleven of 14 members recommended Magnus to take over as their city’s top cop. Members praised Magnus for his nationally-recognized community policing tactics. After an interview, one said Magnus “seemed to open my eyes and set my heart afloat…he has so many ideas and what he did in Richmond was astounding.”

His selection in Tucson has not come without controversy. Members of Tucson’s police union overwhelmingly voted in favor of Aziz over Magnus, citing a number of criticisms that are listed here. For one, they were uncomfortable with Magnus’ participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. Back in December, Magnus famously held a sign stating “Black Lives Matter” alongside protesters at a peaceful demonstration in Richmond, which drew praise from local residents but upset some Richmond cops.


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