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As Free Agent, Oliver Goes Fishing

Oliver, 56, stepped down Oct. 31 after nearly two years as Detroit’s chief of police, when intense criticism erupted over his failure to declare a loaded pistol on a flight. Oliver neglected to inform officials he had his .25-caliber pistol in his luggage before taking a flight Oct. 18 from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Philadelphia. At the time, Oliver described the incident as a distracting “sideshow” to a slew of reporters from CNN to the Chicago Tribune to the Washington Post, saying the negativity it spurred had cast a “pall” over the police department.

Oliver served as Richmond’s 13th police chief from 1995 to 2001.

“Jerry’s a very professional person and he’s a no-nonsense person,” Goldthorpe says. He’s the kind of person some city leaders say they’d like to see as Richmond’s elected mayor in 2005 — if the General Assembly and, ultimately, the U. S. Department of Justice support the move.

“I am very interested in Jerry coming back to town in any capacity I could work with,” says Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney David Hicks. Hicks says he was unaware Oliver was recently in town. Increasingly, Hicks has criticized City Hall, blaming current administration for a public-safety policy he says is ineffective. “There’s no doubt with Jerry back here, with the proper autonomy and resources, we could turn this city around in 12 to 16 months.”

While insiders say Oliver has expressed to some key city boosters an interest in an elected-mayor position, Goldthorpe says Oliver hasn’t specified any intent. “He didn’t get into talk about being the mayor, he certainly didn’t talk about being the police chief,” he says. Goldthorpe points out that Oliver’s wife, Felicia, is from Virginia and that his close friend, former Richmond City Manager Robert Bobb, has recently moved from Oakland, California to Washington, D. C.

“He’s so well-respected. He has an aura and magnetism about him,” Goldthorpe says. “He loves this area.” — Brandon Walters

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