<bt>Gov. Mark Warner recently appointed Vienna resident Benjamin J. Andrews to Virginia's Advisory Board on Juvenile Justice. Andrews was a member of the Vienna Police Department for 19 years and recently has been teaching criminal justice at West Potomac Academy in Alexandria.
“I’m honored and surprised,” said Andrews. “Del. Steve Shannon (D-35th) contacted me and asked if I would consider it.”
“I contacted Gov. Warner and recommended [Andrews] for when an opening arose,” said Shannon.
The Board on Juvenile Justice consists of seven members appointed by the governor, who each serve a four-year term. According to the report of the secretary of the commonwealth, the job of the board is “to ensure the development and implementation of long-range youth services policy; advise the governor, director [of the department of Juvenile Justice] and general assembly on matters relating to youth services; and ensure public support.”
Andrews, who lives with his wife Carmel, and 11-year-old daughter, Rachel in Vienna, hopes that his past experience will help him in this new role. As a police officer, he dealt a lot with juveniles and has a good understanding of juvenile law.
"As a high-school teacher, I developed a rapport with juveniles, and I know where they're coming from," he said.
According to Vienna Police Chief Robert Carlisle, Andrews was a well-respected member of the department.
Carlisle also said that Andrews did not leave the department by choice.
"He was in an on-duty motorcycle accident pursuing a traffic violator" Carlisle said. "He recovered but was paralyzed from the waist down."
In 2001, Andrews was forced to retire from the police department on disability, though Carlisle said that Andrews did not want to leave the force and wanted to work, even without the use of his legs.
Getting through the accident was "the most difficult thing I've ever done," said Andrews. "The thing that helped me get through was family, my daughter and my wife. In the early days, I did it just for them."
Andrews also said he had a lot of support from his friends in the Vienna Police Department. Even officers that he had never met visited and gave him support.
"Without that support, I don't think I could've made it," said Andrews.
Carlisle considers Andrews "a part of our family and will be forever."
After leaving the department, Andrews attended George Mason University and received a bachelor of science degree in administration of justice.
"A lot of people take years to figure out what they want to do after they leave this job," said Carlisle. "He didn't have a plan in place, so he went back to school."
After receiving his degree, Andrews went on to teach criminal justice at West Potomac Academy. Next year Andrews said he will be moving to Falls Church High School and will continue to teach criminal justice.
"The academies are part of a high school, but separate entities with their own administration," said Andrews. "Academies have programs that deal with job-related training."
While Andrews' job at Falls Church is not at an academy, he said that students will still be coming from other high schools to take his course, just like they did when he was at West Potomac Academy.
Andrews said that students that attend that academies attend for a specific class for which they receive credit at their high school. Generally the classes offered by the academies are worth two credits.
This experience as a teacher is one of the things that led Shannon to recommend Andrews.
"Given what he is doing now, teaching kids, I thought he'd be an outstanding counselor to the governor," said Shannon.
Carlisle also spoke very highly of Andrews' experience, saying that he is someone who has had many years of experience as a police officer as well as a teacher.
"Also, someone who has overcome a significant tragedy and understands how precious life really is," said Carlisle.
Andrews said that he is looking forward to the challenges he will face and that he would remain in the position if he were offered the opportunity to renew it. Members of the Board of Juvenile Justice serve four-year terms and no more than two consecutive terms.