CPD Captain Latroy A. “Tito” Durrette believes in second chances, and with good reason.
Fast approaching his 30th year on the force, Tito is the first to tell you that without the second chances he received, his life might be very different.
Tito lost his father as a young boy to a truck driving accident. When his elderly grandmother could no longer manage raising him, Tito headed south to live with his mom. “My life,” he said, “turned from sugar to (something other than sugar) in eight hours on a Trailways bus.” He lived in shelters. He saw domestic violence firsthand. His brother was murdered over narcotics. Tito was quick to fight and slow to trust, a self-described bully who extorted classmates for lunch money rather than show his reliance on food stamps. Finally, when he was basically abandoned at 14, Tito went to one of his teachers and said this was not the life he wanted to live.
He found a family that modeled love and support he had rarely seen before. He met a high school wrestling coach who took a real interest in him and introduced him to the CPD-run Explorers program at Charlottesville High School. A couple of years and thousands of volunteer hours with the organization later, Tito landed on the streets – as a police officer.
Ask him how he did it and you get a simple answer – “They say God looks after fools and babies and I sure don’t wear Pampers anymore.” He also talks about having to make “uncomfortable decisions,” like leaving home. That wouldn’t be his last. He recalls taking his own sister to jail twice on drug charges, both of them in tears in his patrol car. Then he proudly shares how, four years ago, she purchased her first home. “Somebody gave me a second chance,” he said, “and I gave my sister a second chance at life.”
A man who loves a good analogy, one of Tito’s favorites is the “leap of faith,” and he has been making those on behalf of the people he serves every day he’s been on the job. “I believe in showing compassion. I don’t condone what some of the people I encounter are doing, but I understand it. I’ve seen it. I’ve been there. But where you come from does not mean you gotta stay there.”
After nearly three decades on the job, Tito realizes these changes won’t come overnight. “You are not going to save everybody, but I know I made it, so If I can save just one person and change the outcome of where they are headed, my work wasn’t done in vain.”