Concord police chief to step down, take hospital job

Last modified: Saturday, November 23, 2013
John Duval, Concord’s chief of police and a 27-year veteran of the department, announced yesterday he will retire at the end of the year. In a letter to City Manager Tom Aspell, Duval, 51, said he planned to become head of security at Concord Hospital.

Duval’s last day will be Dec. 23. A replacement has yet to be selected.

In an interview, Duval said he is excited for the new position and is proud to have overseen such a dedicated police staff for the past two and a half years.

“The work of this staff, day in and day out, is what makes this city as safe as it is,” he said. “It’s a great place to live.”

Duval said he hadn’t been actively looking for a job, though he had given thought to transitioning to a job outside the force.

“I was at a point in my career where in many ways it seemed a natural progression,” he said.

Duval started with the Concord Police Department in 1986. It was his first job out of the military, after having served six years in the U.S. Air Force. He spent 10 years as officer in the Patrol Division and Community Resources Unit before being reassigned to the Youth Services Division, where he investigated youth-related crimes. He was promoted to sergeant in the Patrol Division in 1998 and again to lieutenant two years later. He became deputy chief in 2005.

Duval took over as interim chief in 2011 after the retirement of Bob Barry, and six months later, he was named Barry’s permanent successor.

Among his accomplishments as chief, Duval said he is most proud of his work on issues such as mental health, domestic abuse and homelessness. Mayor Jim Bouley echoed the sentiment and said he was particularly impressed with Duval’s “community-oriented” approach.

“He’s set a very high standard,” Bouley said. “He’ll be truly missed.”

As chief, Duval oversaw a highly publicized two-year investigation into racist graffiti in the city’s South End, which closed in October with the arrest of a 43-year-old tattoo artist from Pembroke.

Duval’s tenure was not without controversy, though. In August, he drew scrutiny from several groups for moving to acquire an armored police vehicle, known as a BearCat. Duval said the vehicle would be used to offer protection in emergencies, including hostage situations and high-risk arrests. Critics warned the move would militarize the police department and called it a wasteful expense. But the city council sided with Duval, voting in September to approve the purchase.

Duval yesterday thanked the council and the city administration for their backing throughout his tenure.

“Without their support we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” he said. “And for that, I am forever grateful.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)