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Harrington 'Top Cop' Third Year in Row

As far as Crystal, Mark Jr. and Ana Harrington are concerned, their dad Mark Harrington of Clifton is the "Top Cop." His wife Laura, a member of the Clifton Town Council, feels the same way.

But Harrington, 39, is also "Top Cop" in the eyes of the state, having recently earned that title for the third year in a row against some 125 other male police officers throughout Virginia. The test of physical prowess was held at five different sites, with Harrington competing at George Mason University.

The Department of Criminal Justice Services just notified him officially that he won. And in February — with Fairfax County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger attending — Del. James K. "Jay" O'Brien (R-40th) will read a resolution and present Harrington with a plaque in front of the General Assembly.

He'll also receive a championship ring, a trophy and $1,000, which he'll use for a family trip. Delighted, Harrington didn't think he'd come in first again. "I was surprised and elated," he said. "I go in expecting to do the best I can and just hope for the best."

In his 16th year with the county police department, he's currently an instructor at the Criminal Justice Academy, doing diversity training and fitness instruction. In the Top Cop competition, he ran an obstacle course, did 34 pullups, bench pressed 290 pounds and stretched 40 inches in a flexibility test.

But Harrington's best event was the 1.5-mile run, which he finished in 8:46 — his fastest time ever in that race. He spent six days a week, 1 1/2 hours a day, training for Top Cop and attributes his strong performance to plyometrics. He learned it from fellow Clifton resident Rob Muzzio, who was a 1992 Olympic decathlete and learned it from his Eastern European coach.

"Instead of just basic lifting, you add training with heavy resistance," explained Harrington. "Speed and power is what you train for, rather than brute strength."

Next on tap for him is the Can-Am (Canadian-American) Games in June in Tacoma, Wash. Then comes the International Law Enforcement Olympics, in August, in Ottawa, Canada. Said Harrington: "I'm already in training."