AccomplishmentsWhen I first ran for this office four years ago I stated four primary goals. Today I am proud that I can report that my team and I have accomplished or made substantive progress on all of them. Let me touch on some of the highlights.
Continue to deliver top-notched services of the current office
I was fortunate to inherit a great group of dedicated deputies, support staff and volunteer citizens. It is to them I give the credit for providing excellent service.
Enhanced court room security
I requested the Virginia Sheriff’s Association send a three person security assessment team to evaluate our vulnerability and make recommendations for improvement. I worked collaboratively with our local Judges to reach agreement on implementation. This included adding two full time metal detector posts covering the Circuit and General District Courts. (Accomplished with NO additional paid staff)
Office earned VLEPSC re-accreditation(Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission)
A three person team spent three days in August reviewing files containing 167 applicable policy standards and found the Albemarle Sheriff’s Office to be in full compliance. Direct quote from assessor’s report:
“The Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office can be characterized as professional, progressive and a well managed organization. It was very obvious to the assessment team that Sheriff Harding is dedicated to his profession because of his concern for the community and his staff. Every member of the Sheriff’s Office that the team came in contact with was polite, cooperative, knowledgeable, and friendly.”
The Albemarle Sheriff’s Office is one of only 10 in the Commonwealth of Virginia (out of 123) that has been accredited for 8 years or more. Less than 20% of Virginia’s 400 plus law enforcement agencies have received VLEPSC accreditation.
Developed the Largest Volunteer Sheriff’s Reserve Division in Virginia
This group of 50 reserve deputies is currently supplying over 14,000 man hours a year assisting with core service delivery and enhanced programs. Members oversee our website, traffic control at parades and fund raising events, put on dozens of crime prevention and safety related classes. There is too much to mention so please visit our web site at www.albemarleso.org .
Larger programs include:
Search and Rescue This unit has grown to over 125 members saving three lives and locating one deceased over the past three years. TRIAD (crime prevention for seniors) A reserve deputy has been Chairman the past three years. I or staff has written the funding grants for the organization.
Project Lifesaver Reserves place radio transmitters on Alzheimer and Autism clients.
- Developed the first Sheriff’s Office Eviction Assistance Program in Virginia
- Formed a partnership with Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney Denise Lunsford. Her office supplies legal training to our Reserve Academy and at our “First Steps” Gun Course. We supply a reserve deputy on special assignment to her office to assist with low level investigative needs. We are not aware of a working relationship like this anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- Accepted responsibility to supervise the new grant funded Drug Court Officer. He is now a sworn reserve deputy.
- Founded a newly created “Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office Foundation” that will assist in raising funds to support our mission and its many programs.
In addition to providing service:
- Promoted the first female to supervisor since the office was founded in 1745
- Went to more fuel efficient cars where practical. Added first marked Hondas in area. I went from a full size Tahoe to a Ford Escape.
- We developed programs that generate income to the county by having reserves do public fingerprinting ($7,000.yearly) and obtained a DMV Grant to enhance safety, letting certified officers do after hour traffic control ($30,000 yearly in fines). The revenue goes into the Albemarle County’s General Fund.
- With the support of State Senator Creigh Deeds, Delegates David Tascono and Rob Bell I have recently been appointed to the Public Defenders Advisory Committee.
Establish Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
My office has joined the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and assumed a leadership role in awareness and education. We developed and distributed 10,000 brochures on “Internet Safety Tips for Parents” and have provided Presentations within public schools, youth groups and parents. We continue to refine our presentations to try to insure they are age appropriate.
We designed and built an ICAC display board that we use at various events and the “Child Safety Days” we conduct around the county. We do child fingerprinting for parents with equipment we purchased with a Wal-Mart grant. We partnered with a private corporate group for the funding that allowed us to distribute over 10,000 child fingerprint/DNA kits to parents in the area.
Develop work programs for non-violent inmates to relieve tax burdens on the citizens of Albemarle County
The inmate workforce would give incentive to non-violent inmates to perform work for government agencies and 501-c organizations by allowing credit towards court cost and fines for hours worked.
I took our jail superintendent, Col. Ron Mathews, to the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office /Jail and reviewed their inmate workforce operation.
I co-founded and currently serve as co-chairman of the “Inmate Workforce Work Group Committee” with Public Defender Jim Hingeley to study this issue.
I met with each of our seven Judges individually and discussed the potential of the program and noted concerns.
After a number of meetings with the Inmate Workforce work group I invited my fellow Sheriff Bob McCabe from Norfolk and his staff to conduct presentations to local stake holders and the public on their 15 year success with inmate workforces in Norfolk.
A program has now been written and I am working with jail staff and others to address the concerns of several Judges and the City Commonwealth Attorney. We hope to be in a position to have a final product in a few weeks to present for judicial review.
Continue the support of proper and expanded use of DNA Databank in identifying criminals
- In September 2010 I spoke with Governor Bob McDonnell concerning Databank issues. Among other things I strongly encouraged the use of familial DNA searches, which could help solve the Morgan Harrington Case.
- I appeared on CNN last year advocating for expanded use of DNA Databanks
- I testified in Congress last year and met with former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to encourage DNA Databank expansion to all states.
- First Sheriff in the United States to support the “Innocence Project” and to have a testimonial featured on their national web site. DNA has helped to exonerate 267 wrongly convicted citizens.
The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.