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Halifax gets a police chief

Petersburg resident Kevin Lands has been named the new police chief in the Town of Halifax. Lands fills a vacancy created at the end of last year when previous Police Chief David Martin resigned to take a position with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

In the interim, David Irby has assumed the post as acting police chief.

Following a closed-door interview with the town’s personnel committee Monday afternoon, Lands accepted the offer and will begin his duties in Halifax effective Dec. 3 earning an annual salary of $42,000.

Lands scored as the top candidate out of 12 applicants based on the evaluations conducted by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police interview panel. 

“I’m excited about being the police chief of the Town of Halifax,” Lands said. “It’s a wonderful town.”

Touting 17 years of law enforcement experience, Lands said he is up for the challenge of being a small town police chief.

Lands’ experience with in law enforcement dates back to when he was hired as a police officer at the Southside Virginia Training Center Police Department in Dinwiddie from 1998 to 2000.  

In 2000, Lands took a job as a police officer at the Petersburg Police Department where he worked for five years until receiving a position as chief operations officer at Excalibur Security in Chester.  

While working at Excalibur Security, Lands began working as police chief of the Waverly Police Department, and he held both jobs until July when he accepted a position as range master for the Hopewell Sheriff’s Office. 

During Land’s tenure in Waverly, he worked tirelessly to improve the effectiveness, professionalism and integrity of the department, according to Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy.

He developed protocols and enforced a dress code to make the officers look professional. He sought training, grant funding and advice from other professionals and greatly improved the community’s opinion of the local police force, Espy added. Also while serving as police chief, he spearheaded many community-focused programs, making a positive impact on the town and the police department.

The interview panel described Lands as a “strong leader who is budget conscious and a skilled grant writer.”

Chief Panebianco, who led the panel, said, “Kevin appears to understand the fine line between community policing and the need to enforce; a skill that is essential in a small police department.”

 “I’m good at small town policing, and I had a desire to be a small town chief in the Town of Halifax because I thought it would be a good fit,” Lands said.

Lands received his degree in criminal justice from Liberty University in 2011.

When asked what Halifax citizens could expect from their new police chief, Lands said, “They can expect a lot more community policing and a chief who is involved with the community and wants to hear their concerns.”

An open door policy along with various community programs are several things Lands hopes to implement as the new police chief.

“Taking this job gives me the opportunity to do some good for the town,” Lands said.

Personnel Committee Chairman Holt Evans described the selection process as “very professionally conducted and therefore time-consuming, but the result couldn’t be better. Kevin Lands and the Town of Halifax will be an excellent match.”

Town Manager Espy said he supported the high expectations of the new chief to help reinvigorate the department, while at the same time he commended efforts of the current full-time and part-time staff under Lieutenant Irby’s interim supervision.

Espy said it has been a challenge for Acting Chief Irby, who was also considered for the position, to maintain the operations of the department with limited staffing until the chief’s vacancy was filled. 

“I am certain Chief Lands will work well with our officers interacting with them to assess the strengths of the department and areas in need of improvement. Kevin has developed a strong and natural leadership style in which he earns the respect of those with whom he serves in law enforcement”, Espy said. 

The new chief also scored very high in his ability to reach out to the community and to be very visible and accessible to business owners and citizens who have particular concerns about crime and safety, Espy said. 

From his extensive work history in restructuring a police department, the new chief has also demonstrated his ability to work with elected officials and operate effectively on a limited budget. 

After Lands accepted the town’s offer, Mayor Dick Moore said, “First let me thank our Town Manager Carl Espy and our personnel committee working with VACP for all their hard work in finding us what I would say to be an excellent police chief. Chief Kevin Lands will bring to our community experience in all facets of law enforcement. I feel Chief Lands will be a great asset to our town and community. I welcome Chief Lands, his wife, Chantelle, and sons Cody and Brandon to Halifax.”  

Mayor Moore said he anticipates introducing Lands and his family at the Dec. 11 holiday social at town hall starting at 5:30 p.m. prior to the town council work session and regular meeting.