- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - A 27-year veteran of the Durham Police Department will serve as interim police chief beginning Jan. 1.

Deputy Chief Larry Smith will take over for Jose Lopez, who’s retiring Dec. 31 after having been ousted by City Manager Tom Bonfield. Concerned about a rising crime rate, poor police-community relations and low morale, Bonfield said in September he gave Lopez the option to retire with notice, resign or be fired.

In a statement Tuesday, Bonfield said that Smith is well-respected and will be a strong leader while the department recruits for a new police chief.

Smith, a Durham native and graduate of Northern High School, has spent his entire career at the Durham Police Department, rising through the ranks from uniform patrol to, later, deputy chief of operations in July 2012.

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