‘Top Cop’

Published 9:05 am Monday, May 21, 2018

MURFREESBORO – “I will faithfully and impartially execute the duties of my office as chief of police according to the best of my skill, abilities, and judgement.”

With his family gathered in the Murfreesboro Town Hall to witness the occasion, David Griffith uttered these words here Monday as part of his swearing in ceremony to officially take over the position as the town’s police chief. He had been serving as an interim in that position since Chris Sumner retired at the end of February.

“He’s really making good progress as acting chief, and now it’s time for him to be THE chief,” remarked Mayor Hal Thomas after the brief ceremony. “David is an excellent candidate. He’s young enough that he’ll be energetic, but old enough he’ll be mature in the job. He’s a fast learner.”

Griffith, a native of Newsoms, VA and a graduate of Chowan University, has been with the Murfreesboro Police Department since 2001. He left the department for a short period of time, but returned in 2011 and has been working to keep the town safe ever since.

“When Darrell [Rowe] hired me in 2001, I always came into this office and I always thought it was so big,” Griffith said while sitting behind the desk in that very same office which is now his, noting with a laugh that the room doesn’t seem so large anymore.

Since becoming a police officer, Griffith said he’s always aspired to taking on a leadership position. He credited recent MPD retirees Rowe, Sumner, and Joe Burgess with mentoring him over the years, teaching him all the ins and outs of police work along the way.

“I had a great group of guys bring me up. I’m fortunate to have had such good mentors,” he acknowledged.

Once the trio started talking about retirement, Griffith said it was intimidating at first to lose so many experienced officers in a short amount of time. But Sumner started teaching him more about the administrative side of the work.

“I had the patrol side down, I had the investigation side down, but he taught me budget and other administrative duties,” he explained.

Moving forward, Griffith said he intends to keep building positive relationships in the community and to continue everything the police department has already established.

He said he thinks just about everyone in the town has his phone number, and the door to his office is almost always open. That’s one of the benefits, he mentioned, of a tight-knit community like Murfreesboro.

“I love when people reach out to me,” he said. “If you develop good relationships with people, they’re quick to call you.”

Griffith said some of the officers in the department are fairly new in their law enforcement careers, but he just looks at that as an opportunity to mentor them on how to do things the right way and “to make good, ethically sound decisions,” just as he was taught.

He was also quick to note how proud he is of his fellow officers at the police department, especially in their enthusiasm to connect with the community.

Though he’s held the interim position for a few months, Griffith admitted he was both excited and nervous to officially take on this role in the department. But the new police chief focused on a positive outlook, saying he knows there will be both good times and tough times, just as it would be with any job.

“We’re going to get through everything that we tackle,” he said.