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2017-08-09 / Featured / Front Page

Police Chief Thierry Dupuis gets special sendoff

BY BEN ORCUTT CONTRIBUTING WRITER


Congressman Dave Brat and Brian Moran, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, present Col. Thierry Dupuis with a retirement cake during National Night Out at Bensley Park. 
ASH DANIEL Congressman Dave Brat and Brian Moran, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, present Col. Thierry Dupuis with a retirement cake during National Night Out at Bensley Park. ASH DANIEL Last week’s National Night Out celebration at Bensley Park is one Col. Thierry Dupuis, Chesterfield’s outgoing police chief, will not likely forget.

Dupuis was honored by local and state political leaders during the nationwide event, in which people are encouraged to spend the evening outdoors socializing with neighbors and police in an effort to promote positive outreach and cooperation between police and the communities they serve.

“It’s overwhelming,” Dupuis said of the recognition. “I knew they were going to make some comments, but I had no idea that it was going to be to this point. And it really is a culmination of all the work that our police officers do, the partnerships they have with the community. I’m just lucky enough to be the chief.”


County Administrator Joe Casey grabs a piece of cake at last week’s National Night Out event at Bensley Park. 
ASH DANIEL County Administrator Joe Casey grabs a piece of cake at last week’s National Night Out event at Bensley Park. ASH DANIEL Dupuis is scheduled to retire on Sept. 1 after 38 years of service to the Chesterfield County Police Department. He has held every rank within the department and has served as chief for the last 10 years.

The event took place the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 1. David Potter, Bensley Community supervisor for Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation, led the remarks from a lectern in front of the Bensley Community Building. Potter introduced several speakers, including Seventh District Congressman Dave Brat, Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard, and Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. Representatives from Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner’s offices were also on hand to honor Dupuis and members of the Chesterfield law enforcement community. Dupuis received a plaque from Kaine’s office. There was also a custom “Thank you” cake and a large card for community members to sign.

“Our chief has been a local hero for years, so when his retirement was announced, I knew we had to recognize him at this event,” Potter said. “He’s always been a behind-the-scenes hero, but tonight he got the recognition he deserved.”

Following his formal remarks, Brat complimented the event and efforts by local police. “It’s just a great night out,” Brat said. “These guys are the guys that deserve it – the sheriff and the Chief of Police Dupuis. You see what’s going on here. Really, it’s community building. Law enforcement in some communities doesn’t have this positive relationship. That takes some work. It’s a two-way street, and they’re building the two-way street.”

More than 500 people turned out for Bensley Park’s National Night Out celebration last week. Derick Smith, 35, brought his 10-year-old son Ahmari and his nearly 1-year-old daughter Alayna out for the occasion.

“It was great,” Smith said. “Something for everybody in the neighborhood to come together. Something positive.”

As chief, Dupuis said he’s been grateful to have had the opportunity to be the “face” of the department and to interact with members of the community.

“What they do is they get to know you as a person and understand, ‘Ah, you know, there’s probably more to that story,’ ” Dupuis said. “So we’ve been able to probably put out some of the fires that maybe some other communities across the nation haven’t been able to. It’s all in the investment that we have made in getting to know the community and them getting to know us.”

Dupuis joined the Chesterfield force as a patrol officer on July 9, 1979. He said when former Police Chief Joe Pittman interviewed him for the job, Pittman asked him where he saw himself in the future.

“And I said, ‘Well, one day I want to be chief,’ ” Dupuis recalled. “I wanted to make sure that he understood that I wasn’t going to slow down. I was going to continue to move forward. And I’ve been fortunate enough to get that position.”

Now 60 and with 40 years of law enforcement service under his belt, Dupuis said it’s time to take off the badge.

“It’s sweet in the sense that I get to spend more time with my family,” he said. “To be honest with you, I’ve been at it for so long, and it’s time now for me to step aside and let somebody else with maybe different ideas, different ways of doing things [take over]. We’ve got a great foundation in our police department, great people. I have plenty of individuals who could step up and take my position today.”

Dupuis and his wife Mary have been married for 32 years and have three children. Mrs. Dupuis said she’s looking forward to having her husband at home more.

“I am,” she said, “but he loves police work and I know he’s going to miss it.”

A lifelong Bensley resident, Bryan Walker, 85, was happy to see Dupuis honored.

“I thought it was very nice, and I think it was very well-deserved,” Walker said. “He’s been an excellent chief.” ¦

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