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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The COPS Office is pleased to feature the Fauquier County (Virginia) Sheriff’s Office as the January 2020 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest. The winning photo captures Sheriff Robert Mosier helping a little girl get a drink from a water fountain.
It was a sunny day in October when Sheriff Robert Mosier stopped by a local park after a meeting to say hello to the kids in the park, and to see his grandchildren who were visiting from out of town. As he was walking up the hill, he noticed his granddaughter struggling to reach the fountain. Naturally, he offered her a lift to help her get a quick drink of water. “When I think about the way that I engage even with my own family in the public, it's showing a human side,” said Mosier. “I mean, we're all human beings as law enforcement officers. And, quite frankly, we gain legitimacy as the police from those that we serve. So what is a better way to do that, then to live a life alongside of people in the community?”
Sheriff Mosier emphasizes that any of his deputies would connect with the community just as he did in the moment captured in the photo. “I would have done that for any child—anybody in our sheriff’s office would have done the same in similar circumstances,” Sheriff Mosier explained. “The idea is to lead an organization with people [who are] able to do things that benefit the community on their own.”
Encouraging his deputies to engage with the community outside of on-the-job interactions is just one of the ways that Sheriff Mosier has overcome the issue of establishing a presence throughout Fauquier County. The department has also expanded the outreach programs since Mosier’s start in 2016. The Sheriff’s Office’s Public Information Officer, Sergeant James Hartman, stated, “Our community outreach—it’s on steroids now compared to what it used to be.” The office particularly focuses on programs that target at-risk youth, such as the Explorer Program and Junior Academy. “Reaching out to the youth in Fauquier County is something that we work on all the time,” Hartman explained. “We realize that the youth here are our future, and we want to show them a different side of law enforcement then what they might see on the news or encounter elsewhere in their lives.”
“[Our outreach efforts] continue to grow,” Sheriff Mosier added. “Now we have organizations calling us to be a part of different [activities]. Whether it be restorative justice or mental health related issues, the boys and girls clubs, youth events, and more.” Mosier feels that the sheriff’s office has demonstrated to the county that “We are here and we are not going away. We are engaged and we will continue to be engaged.”
To quantify their success with engagement, Sergeant Hartman and Sheriff Mosier discussed the rapid growth of followers on social media. The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook account jumped from 2,000 followers in 2016 to its current 18,000 followers. “Not only do we put out pertinent crime news and emergency information that needs to be distributed, but also [a lot of] our community interaction is put out through social media. The response has been tremendous,” stated Sergeant Hartman. Sheriff Mosier added, “It’s another way for us to communicate to the public and be transparent. I think anyone can look at us and feel that we are approachable, and I feel that social media has helped us with that.”
Mosier explained that people have seen the social media efforts and actually come into the office to inquire for help. In one instance, a woman who had a criminal charge from 12 years prior came into the office asking for assistance in reentering the workforce. “The woman felt that we were approachable because of our social media efforts,” stated Mosier.
When asked about how Sheriff Mosier will continue the office’s success with community outreach, he explained that, “It's about our people. It's about the men and women who work at the sheriff's office. We're going to be very intentional, about building up our people for the future and building leaders.” Sergeant Hartman added, “[The sheriff’s office’s] focus is on building and maintaining these community relationships that we have and especially targeting youth in our community because they are the future. And that's instilled in everybody that works here.”
“It’s the ethos of our organization to support and care for the community,” Sheriff Mosier said. “I don’t see any chance of regression because of the nature of the expectations that have been created by [our ongoing engagement efforts.]”
The COPS Office congratulates the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office for being one of the 12 winners of the 2020 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest and for its commitment to community policing.
Written with contributions from Fauquier County Sheriff Robert Mosier and Sergeant James Hartman. Photo courtesy of Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office.
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