Bowman to retire July 1

Published 1:03 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

After five years at the helm of the Smithfield Police Department, Police Chief Steve Bowman announced that he will retire effective July 1.

Bowman, 57, said during a Town Council police committee meeting that the decision to retire was made primarily in order to spend more time with his family. 

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“In this line of work the family sacrifices so much,” said Bowman to the council. “The time has come for me to give back.”

Bowman said July 1 will mark his 36th year in law enforcement. He was first sworn in as a deputy in the Surry County Sheriff’s Office in 1981.

“That’s a long time to be in police work,” Bowman said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

In his statement to the council, Bowman also lauded the current state and quality of his police officers and department, which recently received full re-accreditation as a certified crime prevention community.

 “The reason to depart now is that it is the right time,” said Bowman. “We continue to strive for excellence.”

As for what he will do after leaving the department:

“I have absolutely no plans whatsoever,” Bowman said, adding that he had no jobs lined up after July 1. 

Bowman, appointed chief of police in 2012, beat out 41 other candidates to fill the position, which was left vacant by Mark Marshall, who was elected sheriff of Isle of Wight County earlier that same year.

Bowman became police chief after serving as commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for six years.

When Bowman became chief, it was a time of considerable transition, as four Smithfield police sergeants followed Marshall to the Sheriff’s Office, leaving holes within the department.  

“When you came on board, we wanted someone to bring our organization back together,” said Council member and Police Committee Chair Denise Tynes to Bowman during the Monday, March 27 meeting. “We needed to reorganize, and you did that.”

Prior to becoming chief, Bowman served for six years as commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission after working for that agency since 1992. Born and raised in Claremont, Bowman began his career with the Surry Sheriff’s Office. That was followed by stints with the Smithfield Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.

Under Bowman’s leadership, the Smithfield Police Department has been designated a Certified Crime Prevention Community and has been successfully re-accredited with a perfect score. Also, the town has been rated one of the safest in the state, Bowman said.

Bowman has a son, Connor, who is in eighth grade at Smithfield Middle School and a grown son, Steven, who is a special agent with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Bowman said his wife, Amy, is supportive of his decision to retire.

A member of the Smithfield Kiwanis, Bowman plans to increase his level of community service now that he has more time, as well as going fishing, hunting and birding on his own schedule.

Bowman said during the meeting that he had been considering the best way to announce his resignation for some time, and informed Town Manager Peter Stephenson for the first time Monday afternoon in the hopes that three months would be enough time to find a successor.

Smithfield’s charter provides that a police chief be chosen by the town manager and hired with the approval of the Town Council.

Bowman thanked the council for its support during his tenure, and said that he will not be a stranger in the community after July 1 — that he will assist wherever he can.

“I will be truly sad to be leaving,” he said. “It’s been a true honor and a privilege.”

Smithfield Times Managing editor Diana McFarland contributed to this report.  {/mprestriction}