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Sanborn Helps Keep County Safe

West Springfield man is 10-year veteran of Auxiliary Police Unit.

Orange cones lined the way as the stream of headlights headed toward the sobriety checkpoint. Frederick S. Sanborn, 53, a 20-year resident of West Springfield, set up and then assisted with the checkpoint that night.

For nearly 10 years, he has volunteered in the Auxiliary Police Unit. As an Auxiliary Police detective, Sanborn has had a variety of police experiences, from working on marine patrol to homicide cases.

By serving his county, he helps ensure the safety, welfare and standard of living of Fairfax County.

"They may think that setting up a DWI checkpoint is a mundane, unglamorous, rough, dirt job," Sanborn said. "By my setting up this checkpoint and helping out the department, I'm freeing that police officer. Instead of him or her doing all that work, they can be concentrating on making the community safe, and that's my point of being an auxiliary."

Sanborn volunteers three to four nights per week as an auxiliary police officer, which amounts to close to 900 hours a year. Currently on weekday evenings, Sanborn investigates recruits' backgrounds or does computer forensics, investigating alleged crimes. Sometimes on weekends, he helps set up a sobriety checkpoint. He has been working on checkpoints ever since he started as an auxiliary officer.

"I couldn't see anybody else organizing it," said Auxiliary Officer Bruce Liming.

Somehow Sanborn was going to be an officer. He grew up in Gloucester, Mass., and studied automatic data processing in college. In 1970, Sanborn was drafted into the U.S. Army as a computer operator and then programmer in the D.C. area. Sanborn thinks that if he had not been studying automatic data processing in college that the Army probably would have drafted him as a military police officer and he still would have been just as happy.

Sanborn retired after 21 years and began working for Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., where he worked on a contract with ADNET (Anti Drug Network) that dealt with law-enforcement agencies. The police officers suggested that Sanborn join the force. Although Sanborn had a deep interest in police work, the county did not pay nearly as much as his then current job. Volunteering was the next option.

From 1995-97, Sanborn was also the auxiliary coordinator, an unpaid position. He oversaw the revision of the General Orders, rules that govern how the auxiliary police unit operates. He increased auxiliary police training and broadened opportunities for the auxiliary unit.

EACH WEEKEND, different opportunities arise for auxiliary officers. At one instance, Sanborn assisted on a hostage barricade. He helped set up the staging area by directing parking for the almost 80 police officers coming to the scene. He has also canvassed neighborhoods, made arrests and testified in court.

To become an auxiliary, Sanborn first had to go through a seven-month training program, about 400 hours. The training teaches volunteers how to drive a police car, shoot a weapon, take reports, handcuff suspects and do defensive tactics. After training, volunteers become sworn auxiliary police officers.

Auxiliary officers can work in a variety of sectors, including the internal affairs office, crime prevention, traffic control and special events.

"You name it, and there's probably an auxiliary police officer that's doing it," said Sanborn.

The Fairfax County Police Department is as enthusiastic as the volunteers.

"They're fantastic," said Lt. David Cox of the Franconia District Station. "Our department loves to utilize them [auxiliary police officers]."

Second Lt. Mark Payton, the auxiliary coordinator, agreed. "The service they provide is just invaluable," he said. "It's hard to measure." The unit is always seeking volunteers. For more information, call 703-280-0576.

"I'm looking for others that wish to come, that have that same attitude that want to help out, that want to work behind the scenes," said Sanborn. "Those folks that are in the stage crew, if you will. To help set the stage up, to make the production go, and then when it's done, they can hear the applause and they can enjoy the same satisfaction as the actors."

Sanborn has two daughters and has been married for 28 years. He is security referent for Veridian Information Systems and also serves on the National Police Week committee.