You spent ten years in the Army as a Captain, and spent nine months deployed in Afghanistan. First of all, thank you for our service. Talk about what drew you to join the Charlottesville Police Foundation board?
I was really struck by the sense of community and brotherhood that the officers in the CPD have. It reminded me very much of my military experience. My father was a police officer in Charlottesville. He actually joined later in life, after my brother and I joined the service. After he retired, he brought me to one of the holiday formal dinners the department has, and it took me back to the military formals that I attended while I was in the service. It felt very familiar and comforting to me, and made me want to do more, and to see what I could do in terms of volunteer service.
You have said that the more you learned about out the CPD and the more officers you met, the more you began to see additional parallels. Can you explain?
There is definitely a connection to me when it comes to what soldiers and officers have to endure in terms of things like PTSD. Both deal with depression and stress and heartache. If, let’s say, an officer responds to a domestic dispute, he or she really doesn’t know what is on the other side of that door. Every situation brings them into the unknown, and for both soldiers and officers, they then end up bringing that stress home to their families, which is also something I was familiar with. Another similarity I have found is the camaraderie. These officers support each other without hesitation or question. I was recently on a ride along with an officer when a call came in for backup, and every officer stopped what they were doing, turned on their lights and sirens and rushed to help out with no idea what they would encounter. It was exactly what our units used to do in Afghanistan. It speaks to the kind of brotherhood you find in both organizations. You look at the person to your left and to your right, and regardless of your race, how you grew up, your religion, your creed…it all just leveled out. There is just an unspoken understanding and a level of respect there.
Talk about the parallels you see in terms of leadership…
I was charged with eleven soldiers and I had six civilians and then a group of about a dozen soldiers who were assigned to me when I got there. In all we had about 30 people I was responsible for, and they had varying disciplines and jobs they were responsible for. They all had different missions they had to accomplish, so I can imagine there being parallels with a police captain where you have so many officers doing so many different things. I also think there are parallels in the ways that both officers and soldiers must balance the concern they they have for the men and women they lead, and for the overall mission, and the people they are ultimately there to take care of. You get caught in this sort of dichotomy at times.
As a board member, what is something you would like the community to know about the police officers who serve and protect them every day?
I would hope that there is a level of respect and understanding that people have. When you see an officer sitting in their vehicle at a stop light, you have no idea what they might have had to deal with the day or the week or the month before. You might run into a police officer walking the beat on the Downtown Mall or working the City Market. They might seem happy or friendly or open, but you really don’t know the whole story.