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A ‘NOBLE’ honor: Norfolk Police chief nationally recognized for work in the community

NORFOLK, Va. -  The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, known as NOBLE, selected Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone for the Eric Holder Leadership Award.

The honor is focused on law enforcement leaders who have helped bridge the gap between police and community.

News 3's Barbara Ciara spoke to Chief Boone, who told her that his inner-city background gives him a unique perspective for the award.

Chief Boone is surrounded by many honors and awards from his decades of service in law enforcement.

However, this latest honor made him well with emotion.

"You know... coming from where I started, I would have never thought it," Chief Boone said.

Who knew that Boone, the child who feared the police who patrolled his low-income neighborhood in New Jersey, would become Norfolk's top cop? Especially after one particular encounter as a young teen that shook him to his core.

That memory is what Boone says drives him to change the narrative of police-community relations.

The chief told his officers to go for it when challenged to the lip sync battle, in part because of what he believes it says to the community.

"It sends that message to all because it was very diverse - men, women, black, white; all different shapes, everybody enjoying themselves," he said.

Chief Boone says he doesn't want another child to look at police and feel fear. His method is to fight crime while embracing community. His officers tutor youth, mentor and have ongoing neighborhood outreach.

He says you don't have to be black to understand what goes on out on the streets, but he also adds: you don't know what you don't know.

"The reality of it, most chief of police don't have my background," he said. "I tell my officers we have to earn the trust. I lead this department from a perspective of yes, we have authority but you're going to have humanity with that authority."

Chief Boone will accept his award in Florida on Monday.