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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 May 2019 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest. The winning photo captures a moment between Sheriff Bob Mosier and a young boy who wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
It all started with a birthday party. Hudson Demaree of Warrenton, Virginia, was all set to turn four. He had decided on a police theme for his birthday party and his mother, Amanda, wanted to pull off a big surprise: she wanted to see if a few officers would swing by the party. Amanda reached out to Cindy Mosier, wife of Fauquier County Sheriff Bob Mosier, to explain how Hudson wanted to be a police officer when her grew up and how much it would mean for him to meet actual law enforcement officers. “I have to take a dig at this,” said Sheriff Mosier, “because [Hudson’s] father is a firefighter and his son wants to go into law enforcement, but it was a good thing to get into uniform and to head over.”
In addition to the sheriff, there was a marked unit in the area, so Hudson not only had the sheriff in attendance, he had the full police complement, including the car. “When we pulled up and showed up and started talking to him, he became enthralled with the idea that the sheriff and the deputies would come to his party and talk to him. It was a very powerful reminder for me of the responsibility granted to me by the residents of Fauquier County.” The sheriff’s vehicle was such a draw that local kids ran down the street to investigate. (They were treated to Slurpees by the sheriff’s department).
The photo itself was taken as Sheriff Mosier bent down to unwrap a challenge coin for Hudson. Locally, the photo touched so many people that John Kiernan, a local artist and former police officer, rendered the photo again in sketch form. Kiernan is a painter and a muralist who has a large body of work dedicated to law enforcement themes and imagery. The piece was syndicated in local publications.
Fauquier County is located an hour south of the Washington, D.C. region. It is 660 square miles and contains, as Sheriff Mosier relates, “three different functional counties, including the outlying D.C. suburbs, the Route 29 transit corridor, and the agricultural areas.” Mosier has had, by his own acknowledgement, a nonstandard law enforcement career. He was part of an international police task force which took him to Bosnia in 1996, but when he returned to the department, the budget cuts meant that there were no open positions. Instead, he served as the Director of Investigations for the International Justice Mission, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating modern slavery, and worked with the Department of Defense before standing for election as sheriff in 2015.
When asked how he describes Fauquier County to someone who’s never been there, Sheriff Mosier takes a long moment to think. “I wish you could see the inside of my office right now. I have a copy of Norman Rockwell’s ‘The Runaway’ and I think that Warrenton, where I live, is about as close to that as you can get. Being a sheriff is the truest form of community policing, because if the community is not happy with you, you are out of a job.”
His PIO, Sargeant James Hartman, continues. “The community is special. There are a lot of families who have lived here for generations. We’re far enough from D.C. to avoid the congestion that you read about in the paper but close enough to enjoy the culture. There are a lot of new people moving in and it’s growing in a good way. Folk who have arrived are amazed by the difference in the way law enforcement works out here”
Sheriff Mosier added, “All communities are local. While law enforcement here is still charged with the law enforcement responsibilities, I have heard from all of our communities that our deputies are courteous and approachable. The approachability and willingness to share information and concerns is out there. Instead of just not making contact with us, they do. Are you familiar with Peele’s principles? I tell reporters that they can talk to any of my deputies about anything, and that is the principle that we operate under. What you see here is replicated every day in America with a true sense of care or concern for the community. I think that is still alive and well in law enforcement in general, but the perception is something we are all working hard to correct.”
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