Pfc. Andrew MacDonald is always on the lookout for better police equipment and technology. He seeks out information on local, state and federal laws so he can help educate his fellow officers with the most up-to-date knowledge.
That is why MacDonald and seven other Fairfax County patrol officers were honored at the Fairfax County Crime Solvers Pinnacle Awards Christmas Luncheon, Tuesday, Dec. 12. The officers make significant contributions to the police force and the communities in which they serve, said Shelley Broderick, the Fairfax County public information officer who works as the liaison between the police department and the Fairfax County Crime Solvers board of directors.
The Crime Solvers board presents the awards each year to different members of the force, with this year’s focus on patrol officers. It’s their way of thanking the officers whom their board couldn't operate without, said Diane Hume, former chair of the board. Commanders from each of the county's police stations nominated one patrol officer who stood out in 2006.
"Our program is a great example of a partnership that works," said Col. Dave Rohrer, Fairfax County chief of police. "Together we have closed cases and made arrests."
A MISCONCEPTION about the partnership is that the police department operates and funds Crime Solvers. The Fairfax County Crime Solvers is a nonprofit entity that works with the police to apprehend criminals. It puts up reward money for people whose tips to police result in an arrest, but the police department has nothing to do with its funding. Crime Solvers relies solely on donations from local businesses, said Charlie Smith, a 25-year board member and former chairman.
“It’s a very beneficial program,” said Broderick.
The awards, while recognizing just eight members of the police force this year, stand for the appreciation of the entire force’s dedication throughout the year. This year’s appreciation was more poignant than most, since Officers Michael Garbarino and Vicky Armel were shot and killed in the line of duty last May outside the Sully District Station. Rohrer said that incident was one of the most difficult moments he’s experienced in his 26 years as a police officer. It became one of the proudest, since the community got behind the department and supported them throughout the tragedy and its aftermath, he said.
“There was and is redemption,” said Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-At-large), of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “And we saw it in the outpour of public support for our police department.”
That support is exactly what Crime Solvers board members strive to keep consistent. Crimes are solved when the police department and the community work together, said Hume. MPO Frank Noonan, this year’s Sully Station award winner, knows all too well about the significance of public support. Broderick said his personnel file is overflowing with letters of commendation from the public and fellow members of the department.
Pfc. Jeremy Hoffman, the McLean Station winner, has built relationships in his community that have helped develop informants to the gang unit. Hoffman represents the use of community support that Crime Solvers also heavily relies upon.
“We know that Crime Solvers doesn’t happen by luck or superstition,” said Connolly. “It happens by hard work and commitment.”
That commitment is exactly what each of the eight officers from each station have continued to show, said Jim Clifton, chairman of the Crime Solvers board. From community meetings and neighborhood watch groups, to continuously educating themselves and their fellow officers, the eight Pinnacle Award recipients stand for excellence within each and every station, said MacDonald.
“The efforts are the representation of the work that everyone is out there doing on a day-to-day basis,” he said.