Chief Burrow retires

Published 4:05 pm Friday, December 23, 2022

On December 7, 1972, Franklin Police Department Chief W.L. “Willie” Burrow retired.  A native of Burrowville, Prince George County, Va., he joined the Franklin Police Force in 1940.  Burrow was appointed Chief of Police for the Town of Franklin on January 1, 1946.

A resolution by the City of Franklin recognized his service to the community:

WHEREAS, W. L. Burrow has served honorably and faithfully— and with distinction — as Chief of Police of the Town of Franklin and now the City of Franklin continuously for 27 years until his retirement, and 

WHEREAS, during his tenure of office as Chief of Police, W. L. Burrow has been recognized for outstanding work in the field of law enforcement, such recognition from his fellow police chiefs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia having culminated in his election to the presidency of the Virginia Association of Police Chiefs in 1962, and

WHEREAS, not only does W. L. Burrow enjoy recognition by his fellow officers, but also the citizens – young and old alike – of our city and area, the attorneys and judges with whom he has worked so closely, even citizens whom he has helped to prosecute, attest to his fairness and desire to see that the rights of all parties were carefully protected and preserved, and

WHEREAS, his interests in his fellow man do not rest within the confines of his job but carry to all forms of assistance to those in distress and need, many of whom he has aided or assisted in finding food and shelter through the auspices of several charitable organizations whose efforts to assist those in need he has directed and coordinated.


That it acknowledges with deep appreciation the outstanding job done by W. L. Burrow as Chief of Police of the City of Franklin.

That it extends to “Chief”, his wife Dot, and their devoted family, the very best wishes for his retirement.

That it orders that the original of this resolution be spread upon the minutes of the deliberations of the City Council, and that a copy of this resolution be delivered to Chief W. L. Burros


“Police officers are gentlemen”, underscored Franklin’s new police chief W. G. (Bill) O’Brien as he was sworn into office – replacing retired chief W. L. Burrow. “And they should look like gentlemen,” he added. The former Virginia State Trooper, with 27 years of service, emphasized the importance of image and good community relations. Toward that end, O’Brien announced that his officers would have new uniforms, similar to those worn by the Virginia State Police — with wide and flat brim hats instead of traditional caps. O’Brien planned more changes in the department, such as improved public relations and officer training; but only after he had a chance to make studies of procedures and equipment needs. “I hope that we will be making some of the changes within the next six months,” he said at that time.

In addition to his career in law enforcement, O’Brien had extensive military background with the United States Army. A veteran of World War II, he participated, with the 29th Infantry Division, in the D-Day invasion at Normandy and saw extensive combat duty – and received numerous medals and citations. Following the war, in addition to being a Virginia State Police officer, he was associated with the Virginia Army National Guard; initially, serving as a First Lieutenant with Battery “B”, 3rd Automatic Weapons Battalion in Franklin. Over time, he was promoted to higher ranks within the battalion; and, at the time of his appointment to Chief of Police, he also commanded the 3rd Automatic Weapons Battalion, 111th Artillery based in Portsmouth – with the rank of Lt. Colonel.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is