Congratulations to 1993 alumnus Rick Edwards who was named Richmond's Police Chief Wednesday. Edwards came to Fork Union Military Academy as a postgraduate basketball athlete and played for the late Fletcher Arritt in 1992-1993, prior to playing at the University of Richmond.
BY: John O'Connor
Richmond's new police chief was an enforcer in town long before his protect-and-serve career began.
Rick Edwards, named the city’s top cop Wednesday, earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Richmond as a rugged interior player.
Edwards, from Chesapeake, Ohio, arrived at UR in 1993. The 6-foot-8, left-handed forward, who attended Fork Union Military Academy for a postgraduate year, was known as a rebounder, screen setter and physical defender early in his UR career.
“Great work ethic. Great character. Terrific guy,” Bill Dooley, who was Edwards’ coach at UR, said Wednesday. “Great teammate, and he became a great leader.”
Dooley added that, as Edwards’ career developed, he also became a key scorer for the Spiders because of his hustle and commitment to improving his strength and interior moves.
Edwards averaged a team-leading 13.6 points as a senior after averaging 2.1 points as a freshman, seven as a sophomore and 8.3 as a junior. He made second team All-Colonial Athletic Association as a senior. Edwards was a three-year starter and captain of the Spiders’ 1996-97 team.
He was elevated from Richmond’s acting police chief to police chief Wednesday. Richmond’s police force and Henrico County’s police force are now commanded by former UR basketball players. Eric English, the Henrico police chief, played guard for the Spiders during the late 1980s, when Dooley was a Richmond assistant coach.
“They were similar in certain ways. They were quiet guys who got things done,” Dooley, now the coach at Benedictine College Prep, said of English and Edwards. “When they spoke, you wanted to hear what they had to say. They were wonderful young men who became wonderful men.”
English, a 6-foot-2 starting Spiders guard who graduated from UR with a criminal justice degree in 1989, was known for his lockdown defense.
“He’d guard the devil out of you,” English’s coach at UR, Dick Tarrant, said. “Silence is golden. He didn’t say much. Even with his buddies, he was short on words. A very serious student and an excellent kid to coach.”
English, from Mebane, North Carolina, was a member of the Richmond Police Department for 28 years, rising to the rank of deputy chief. He also was a well-respected high school basketball official in the Richmond area for 15 years.
From 2018 to 2020, English was chief of police in Harrisonburg.
Edwards spent part of a college summer working a 160-hour internship with Henrico’s police force, riding with officers in patrol cars and observing aerial-surveillance techniques.
Edwards went on to play professionally for two years in Holland, Belgium and Austria. That time in pro basketball was a short bridge to a career in law enforcement that had long been planned by Edwards. He joined the Richmond Police Department in 1999 and gradually moved up through the ranks.
“It was just kind of a fit for me,” Edwards, also a criminal justice major at UR, said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2019. “A lot of police officers have family members in the business. I never did. I just always knew that I wanted to do something that was interesting and challenging and rewarding.
“I was never driven by trying to make a lot of money or anything like that. I wanted to have a life that I felt was meaningful … It’s a great way to help people.”
Edwards was a patrol officer. He worked in various street-level narcotics units and became a detective in the Major Crimes Division. But for most of his career, he investigated homicides.