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Suffolk Police welcomes 15 new officers

Suffolk Police welcomed 15 new officers during a badge pinning ceremony Oct. 21 in the City Council chamber at City Hall.

Clerk of Court Randy Carter swore in the 15 officers who received their Suffolk Police badges, including Michael J. Childs Jr., Joshua J. Walters, James D. Chapman, Benjamin M. Grizzard, Christian P. Prevett, Jason M. Borum, Philip B. Neal, Heidi R. Reynolds, Tamara L. Jamison, Andrew B. Balaba, Elizabeth A. Kellogg, Christopher L. McTague, India I. Resendiz, Zachary B. Clark-Garcia and Danielle Hamilton.

Interim Police Chief Al Chandler noted the difference in this badge pinning versus others held previously by the department, and said it has had to “overcome and adapt” to them as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

“COVID-19 has caused us to make some changes,” Chandler said. “But what we have not changed is our unwavering responsibility and requirement in taking care of the citizens of Suffolk.”

Chandler said he appreciated the new officers answering the call to serve, but said they must do so with integrity. It is among the things they need to remember, he said, while they serve as officers.

“Our citizens have to believe that what you say is truth,” Chandler said, “because they know who we are. There is no room for error, there is no room for anything short of 100% honesty.”

Chandler also called on the new officers to continue to learn, saying there is no downtime when they are training.

“FTOs who are here today,” Chandler said, referring to field training officers, “I have given them a charge, which is to get on your nerves asking questions, to look at the news at night, look at television at night, ride down the street and have a notepad with them so they can write down questions and ask you questions because there’s so many things that you don’t know and that you’re going to need to know.

“You’re going to want to be the strongest, the fastest, the sharpest, the most knowledgeable and the most ready that is in this United States.”

Another piece of advice he offered to the new officers is to help someone.

“Quite often we get to the point in this job where we get so focused on the mundane task of doing what we need to do that we can sometimes forget the fact that our number one charge is to protect and serve. We should be out and helping people to fix problems. That is what we do. That is what gives you longevity in this job. That is what makes this a career, something that you can truly be proud of.”

He also said officers should also have fun while on the job, which he acknowledged seems contrary to the common perception. He said part of the adapting the officers have to do is enjoying what they do. Chandler said being a police officer is not work for him, and that when officers focus on fixing problems and helping people, “then you find yourself really enjoying this job.”

“The very things that seem to be problems are going to be looked at in history as the time that we got it right,” Chandler said, “the time that we got better.”

Mayor Linda Johnson noted the unique circumstances of the badge pinning. In normal circumstances, members of the officers’ families, including their children, would be in the council chamber. For this badge pinning, however, they were not in attendance due to COVID-19 but rather watching online.

“Even though you’re not with your families, you are,” Johnson said, “and they are here with you, and so we are pleased to have them join us however they may join us.”

Johnson commended them for their courage and commitment in taking on the challenge of being an officer during the coronavirus pandemic. She said they will have numerous obstacles and challenges, but noted they are equipped with the knowledge, resources and know-how to overcome them.

“It’s not an easy job,” Johnson said. “It’s something you’ve chosen to do, in perhaps one of the most difficult times in our country. And yet, you’ve stepped up.”

The ceremony can be viewed at www.suffolkva.us/badgepin.