Page 14,The Institute Report, June 2013
Learning to Be There for the Community
Cadets Shadow Fairfax County Police
Six VMI cadets got a taste of what a career in law enforcement is really
like when they trained with the Fairfax County Police during spring field
Making the trip to Fairfax, a densely populated suburban community
in Northern Virginia, were cadets Christian Beale ’14, Kevin Jow ’13,
Nathan Myers ’14, Riley Newsom ’14, Benton Roe ’13, and Gannon
Sullivan ’14. Jow, who trained with the Fairfax Police during spring field
training exercises last year, served as cadet in charge for this year’s trip.
An inside connection helped to secure spots for the cadets: Sullivan’s
Brother Rat, Tom Bower ’14, is the son of Dwight Bower, director of
recruitment for the Fairfax Police.
While in Fairfax, the cadets rode along with officers on both the day
and night shifts. “The night shifts were exciting,” said Jow. “We were in
areas that had more crime.”
In the day, he said, the cadets partnered with officers assigned to patrol
less crime-prone areas. This situation was not an accident. “[Dwight
Bower] wanted to show us the great extremes of the job,” said Jow.
Extremes were definitely what they found. Sullivan’s very first night shift
call came with high-drama: a paranoid schizophrenic off his medications
had posted on Facebook that he planned to bring an assault rifle to
church the next day. Thankfully, that situation ended peacefully – the
man did not have an assault rifle, and he was taken into custody without
On the other end of the spectrum, said Jow, was a call involving
a burglary at a restaurant. When police arrived, they found that the
restaurant’s owners already had plenty of evidence, and a suspect in
“[The burglar] went through the grease trap from the roof and there
was grease all over the restaurant,” Jow explained. “When the officers
arrested the man, he was still wearing the clothes covered in grease.”
After all of that trouble, he’d only taken two bottles of liquor.
Sullivan, meanwhile, found at least one situation that was not clear-cut.
A teenager had stolen alcohol from a grocery store, and in the process
of making a fast getaway, he’d backed his car into a shopping cart with
a child inside. The cart had turned over and the child had taken a spill.
“Luckily, the kid wasn’t hurt,” said Sullivan. Soon after officers arrived
at the scene, the teen came back and said he knew it was wrong to leave.
“Because he came back, we couldn’t arrest him because technically,
it wasn’t hit and run, and [the store] didn’t want to prosecute him,”
Sullivan continued. In the end, the young man only got a summons for
hitting the parked grocery cart.
During their time in Fairfax, the cadets also toured the county’s fire
and rescue facilities, as well as its 911 center and the aerial unit that
dispatches helicopters to help with traffic control. They also visited the
Fairfax Police Academy, which Jow hopes to attend this fall.
“Fairfax has all of the toys there,” said Sullivan, who also plans a
career in law enforcement. “They have all of the right resources, and
their guys look after each other a lot. It’s a great organization.”
Both Jow and Sullivan said that they’d learned a good bit about people
from their police work experiences.
“You definitely have to go in with an open mind, especially toward
the citizens,” said Jow. He added that the night shift officer he rode with
stressed that if you treat people with courtesy, they will likely be courteous
to you in return.
“The main job is being there for the community, for the people,”
said Sullivan. “That’s what I loved the most about it. It’s interacting with
people and finding out what’s going on, and ultimately helping them and
A fire and rescue operator explains the interior of a hazardous material command vehicle
to cadets (from left) Benton Roe, Christian Beale, and Riley Newsom.
– Photo courtesy of Gannon Sullivan.