The call crackled over the radio to the ears of George Lake, a retired Herndon resident, that a teenage girl had gone missing, presumed to have run away. Lake, a volunteer with the Herndon Police Citizens Support Team, got his wife and the two hit the streets to find the girl.
“I remember thinking, where would a teenage girl go?” said Lake, a volunteer with the team for 27 years. “The only place we could think of would be a school, so we started checking out the schools in town and started with Herndon Middle School.”
After arriving, Lake and his wife spotted a blonde girl who fit the description of the missing child. They radioed it in to Herndon Police. Sure enough, the girl was the one that police were looking for.
Then there was the time that Fred Kibler was watching over summer crowds during the Herndon Festival and an Hispanic male ran up to him. He had been slashed across the back with a sharp object and was bleeding profusely.
“It was all just a big mess, there was blood everywhere,” Kibler said. “But with our training we’re taught to handle tense situations like that … and I stayed with him and applied pressure to the wound until the police and ambulance arrived.”
THE EVENTS were just two in a long history of instances in which the Herndon Citizens Support Team has been recognized and honored for their achievements in assisting the Herndon Police for 30 years.
The organization has grown from a basic “eyes and ears” group of citizens to a fully functioning group of volunteers dedicated towards helping out their community and assisting the Herndon Police, said Citizens Support Team president Guy Masters, a charter member of the organization.
Originally, it had started as an idea of Homer Hubbard, a retired Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy, who wanted to find a way for residents to give a hand to local community police efforts.
“At first, we were kind of like, I don’t want to say a secret society, but we were a group of citizens that took time to patrol the town and keep an eye on everything,” Masters said. “The police, as hard as they work, they can’t be everywhere … so we backed up the police officers.”
In the past 30 years, the Citizens Support Team has grown into more than simply a group of citizens keeping an eye on the town. Support team members are now given special training courses by police officers, certified to fingerprint individuals, write parking tickets, direct traffic and control crowds during crises and large town events.
THE SUPPORT TEAM consists of 13 active members, made up of both citizens of the Town of Herndon and people residing within the area. While they patrol Herndon at their leisure typically in street clothes, they have uniforms. Every member is a volunteer and each go through a training process with the Herndon Police Department.
The group is consistent in that every member has a desire to help the community and an interest in police work, Masters said.
“I think that mainly you’ll find that most people have a desire to help out their community, but at the same time they don’t want to be out patrolling the streets with a gun,” Masters said. “They’re happy to work behind the scenes, support the police and basically just help out the Town of Herndon.”
Aside from their work patrolling annual Herndon events and answering calls of missing children, Citizens Support Team members have been commended for capturing the individuals who had vandalized the Centennial Golf Course during the 1990s and helped to control crowds during fires that have occurred in the town.
The greatest tangible benefit for the town, Masters said, was in freeing up sworn police officers from basic duties like traffic and crowd control to handle the most pressing necessities at the time.
“We like to think that our work really acts as an added resource for the police officers,” Masters said. “By doing the job that we do, they have more of an ability to handle what they need to at that time.”
THE WORK of the volunteers over the past three decades has been a shining example of community pride and nothing short of a remarkable dedication, said Chief of Police for Purcellville Daryl Smith, a former member of the Herndon Police Department. Smith was the original police officer who worked with the volunteers after they approached the department with the idea for a support team.
The recent 30-year anniversary of the support team is “a testament to the type of individual who wants to help out the team,” Smith said. “They’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of very dedicated members.”
Despite the amount of praise showered on the group in recent weeks, Masters remains humble.
“The thing of it is, if you’re coming home at night and you see a guy who you might think is breaking into a place … or driving drunk, the typical person will want to call the police,” he said. “For us, we just value that, helping out the town.”
“I just really hope that we can continue doing that for several more years.”