By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Police Department was recognized at the Vinton Town Council meeting on October 4 for receiving re-accreditation for the fifth consecutive time from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC). Police departments in Virginia are re-accredited for four-year terms, so that means the Vinton Police have received this award from the Commonwealth of Virginia for the past 20 years. Since 2002, the Vinton Police Department has operated at the highest standard. This time the department received a perfect report on the evaluation.
Vinton Police Chief Fabricio Drumond expressed his pride in the officers in his department for this accomplishment. He commended Officer Brandon Hill, who has served as both accreditation manager and records manager for the department through the process this time.
Deputy Chief Tim Lawless described to council the purpose of re-accreditation, the process police departments must go through, and the value of that recognition to the community. Re-accreditation symbolizes an in-depth review of the entire operations, organization, management, and administration of a police department.
The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) make up the VLEPSC. Executive board members consisting of active sheriffs and chiefs of police establish professional standards and administer the accreditation process by which Virginia agencies can be systematically measured, evaluated, and updated.
The Commission’s goals include increasing the effectiveness, professionalism, and efficiency of law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth; promoting cooperation among all components in the criminal justice system; ensuring the appropriate level of training for law enforcement personnel; and promoting public confidence in law enforcement. Accreditation, in conjunction with the philosophy of community policing, commits the agency to a broad range of programs (such as crime prevention) that directly benefit the public.
The morale of the agency is enhanced by increasing the employees’ confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of their own agency. Operations become more streamlined and consistent. Accreditation policies address officer safety issues and provide for adequate training and equipment of the officers. Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence.
The accreditation process is ongoing. Officer Hill was in charge of 191 files that would be reviewed. Over the course of the four-year term that adds up to 764 files maintained.
Chief Drumond called Officer Hill a “valuable asset to our team” and said, “we are lucky to have him here.”
Hill is also a Senior Assessor and travels throughout the state evaluating other agencies. He commended the officers in his department for their professionalism, especially during the time that the evaluation team was here assessing the department. He named Corporal Dustin Bray, in particular, for the impression he made on the evaluators during a “ride-along” which included questions about every aspect of the department.
Town Manager Pete Peters called the perfect re-accreditation score “remarkable.”
Chief Drumond introduced a new police program, “Honoring the Fallen,” sponsored by the First Responders Children’s Foundation to provide “financial support to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty and families enduring significant hardship due to tragic circumstances.”
If you see unshaven police officers in Vinton during the month of October, they are part of fundraising for this project which Lt. Michael Caldwell and Lt. Scott Hurt will be heading up.
In other action, Vinton Director of Community Programs Chasity Barbour updated council on various upcoming events and on the marketing outreach of her department.
She and Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angie Chewning have caught the public eye with their comical YouTube broadcasts on individual businesses in—“All Things Vinton.”
Barbour mentioned several programs at the Vinton War Memorial recently including “Career Quest” which exposes students to different trades—like the hospitality industry. In this session, seventh graders learned to set a formal table in the ballroom. The War Memorial is not just for weddings and parties anymore; a host of conferences and meetings are scheduled there as well.
She talked about leadership groups she has joined and eventually led, a growth mindset course she has been taking through Ferrum, and seminars and networking programs she has participated in which have broadened connections for the town.
Mayor Brad Grose applauded Barbour as a “great representative for the town who clearly enjoys her job.” Town Manager Peters noted that while Barbour is in charge of the “fun events” in town—the festivals, the parades, the special programs—she spends a great deal of time working behind the scenes, with much of that work self-initiated. “She sells the town and seizes opportunities. Her outreach creates new business for the town and awareness of the town. She has a passion for what she does.”
Barbour ended her presentation with her typical positivity, “There’s a whole big world out there and we all should celebrate the small victories.”
Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Nathan McClung briefed council on the town’s annual recertification as a Class 8 Community Rating System (CRS) community—which allows those in the flood plain to receive flood insurance at a 10% policy discount. To receive that rating, a town must implement flood protection policies beyond the minimum.
McClung also briefed council on the Town of Vinton Comprehensive Plan Amendment to Adopt and Incorporate by Reference the 2022 Town of Vinton Route 24 Bike/Pedestrian Plan. The plan has been subject to much review at council meetings and two public meetings and involves street safety improvements.
Council adopted a resolution presented by Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan authorizing the town manager to execute current and future agreements and any modifications with VDOT for road system enhancements. This “blanket” approval avoids having to return to Town Council for every agreement and is updated every four years.
Council adopted a resolution approving new Purchasing Policy and Procedures requested by Finance Director Andrew Keen. The town’s current purchasing policy requires Town Council approval for any professional services over $30,000, while current state code allows administrative decisions to be made up to $100,000. Town staff has revised the current policy and asked that this threshold be set at $80,000 for professional services with any items or services greater than these amounts to be brought to Town Council for review and approval.
Keen also presented a report from the Finance Committee, sharing the information that the town has ended the fiscal year “in a tremendous position financially” with $3.8 million in total cash and $3.325 million in investments in the General Fund. The Utility Fund is in the process of closing due to the purchase of the town’s water and wastewater systems by the Western Virginia Water Authority in July.