Charlottesville Police Foundation i

Behind the Badge - Lt Larry Jones

October 21, 2019

 

 

Why did you get into police work?
It was kind of a fluke, to be personally honest. I think I have always had a desire to serve others, so ever since I was a kid, this work just seemed appealing to me. I considered joining the military for a while, but then had a family, and the idea of long deployments did not seem so appealing. So, I began thinking about how I can still serve without being removed from my family. I thought it would be nice to do the kind of work that could make a real difference in my own community, so police work became a viable option for me to explore. My aunt was a police officer for 15 years in the Chicago P.D. My uncle worked for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. My grandfather was in the Army, and my uncle was in the Navy. I am not sure I knew at that point that this family background impacted me as much as it did. From the moment that I moved to Virginia, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go.

Why is the Charlottesville Police Foundation important to the CPD?
The CPF is very important given that they provide a lot of material support to the department for shortcomings, and things that might not be squeezed into our yearly budget. That is a big deal, because it helps us get not only necessary equipment and training, but also the creature comforts that help our job go more smoothly while we are out there doing these things to protect the community. For instance, they provided us the gym in the downstairs of our building, and so many of us use it regularly and are so grateful for that assistance. I think their work is also important in that it allows people in our community to see the work the department is doing and sends the message that there are people out there supporting us, and who are putting their money where their mouths are to ensure that we can flourish, which is particularly important in today’s world where animosity and distrust are serious issues.

How important is the community to the jobs you do?
Working with and having relationships with members of the communities we serve is extremely important because it helps us understand the issues that are going on in certain areas. The community serves as the backbone of any policing organization. Our profession has always relied heavily on the public assisting us, whether by calling us to a situation in the first place, or providing crucial intelligence, because more times than not, a situation we are investigating will not be clear cut. A big part of building those relationships is just getting out of your car and talking to people day in and day out and engaging people in conversations that shows you are just a person like they are and that you have a real interest in improving life in the place they live. It is very important to us that community members feel comfortable about coming and talking to the police. Plus, the more we know about community members and the places they live, the better we can do our job of making informed decisions on how best to handle a variety of situations.

What are the biggest misconceptions the public has about your job?
I’d say the biggest misconception is forgetting that we are all human beings. A lot of people do not see past the uniform. People are always telling me “You look so different out of uniform!” All I can think is my face is still the same! I look the exact same, uniform or not. I like to do all I can to interact with as many people as possible, whether at a sporting event, Fridays After Five, or the City Market, as a way of showing them that human beings are no different when it comes to dealing the difficulties or various thing that happen in life. When there is a shooting in a community where we are working, we are worried about the people there, because we know many of them. It is not easy to be in the midst of those kinds of events. When you see a cop working, it is impossible to know everything he or she has been dealing with over the year, month, or even week.

What do you like to do in your off time?
I like a little bit of everything. I listen to music. I grew up playing video games, so I am still a gamer. I like to exercise and work out. I enjoy watching basketball and football. I love to spend time with my family. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen trying out new recipes. I am an amateur baker, so I do a lot of that. As I mentioned, the City Market is kind of my big deal, I love to engage with folks out there.

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James Pierce

The Police Department supports the Boys & Girls Club Teen Program by sending officers to the Cherry Avenue Club from 7 to 11 p.m. during the summer. There is nothing quite like seeing a police officer on a Teen Night in the Club, smiling, shooting hoops, or riding a mechanical bull to humanize all officers for the kids. The Club appreciates its unique partnership with the CPD and CPF.

—James Pierce, Executive Director

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia