Deputy Police Chief Hassan Aden spent more than half of his life working for the Alexandria Police Department, so leaving was not an easy choice.
He essentially grew up in the agency, first working patrol, then undercover vice and internal affairs. He experienced an officer’s nightmare, watching fellow officer Charles Hill die in a shootout with a drug dealer. Another officer shot and wounded in the incident committed suicide several years after.
“That showed me the realities of this profession,” said Aden, who retired in mid-November after 25 years with the department.
Aden, 47, is moving his wife and two young sons to Greenville, N.C., where he will be chief of the city’s 250-person force.
“I’m going to miss working for the Alexandria Police Department,” he said in a recent interview. “But I’m excited to take what I’ve learned to another staff.”
Greenville is a city of 90,000 people, 33,000 of them students at East Carolina University and other colleges.
Aden, who was head of the Alexandria department’s 200-person patrol bureau, took a common-sense approach to policing and was an advocate for technology, according to people who worked with him.
He helped put police officers in schools as resource officers so children would have positive interactions with them, implemented “hot spot” policing in Alexandria’s higher crime zones and helped bring in automated license plate readers to catch car thieves and other criminals.
Sgt. Mike Kochis, former head of the police union, who is now with the criminal investigation division, said Aden helped cut through departmental red tape. As an example, Kochis cited unmarked police cars that Alexandria went without long after they were commonplace in departments across the country.
“Nobody could tell us why — we just didn’t have them,” Kochis said. “Chief Aden asked why not and got it approved. Now we have them.”
Aden is the son of an Italian mother and a Somali father. He spent his early years in Rome, moving to Alexandria when he was in the sixth grade. His stepmother worked for the State Department, a job that took the family to Brussels for Aden’s high school years. When he came back, he attended American University. He said he always admired police officers and wanted to become one.
He joined the force in 1987 and worked his way up in the agency, leaving his mark by overseeing the patrol bureau during a period of declining crime. Serious crime in the city is down 12 percent from the same time last year.
“He is going to be missed,” Kochis said. “He builds good relationships. You can tell he really cares about the line officers.”