Richard Brooking is “Mr. Culpeper.”
The longtime town of Culpeper Police Department officer was honored Dec. 19 during a retirement party - he officially leaves the force on Dec. 31.
An emotional Brooking laughed and fought back tears as his co-workers, friends and bosses toasted him for an interesting career that began in June of 1986.
He’s served as detective, K-9 officer and master police officer over the years - but through it all he’s maintained his integrity and treated others as he’d want to be treated.
It’s tough to leave a job that he’s worked at for more than 28 years, but Brooking said he’s looking forward to continuing his volunteer work with addiction services and taking a part time job.
“It’s kind of weird, I’m kind of numb to what’s going on,” Brooking said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the next chapter holds. I’m sad about the friends and community connections I’m leaving behind that I’ve established over the years.”
Brooking started working in law enforcement for the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office and then moved to the Town of Culpeper. A native of Culpeper, he formed lasting friendships and relationships with his neighbors in the town.
“It’s been really cool to be able to help out,” Brooking said. “People know I’m from here so they know I care about the community I live in. It’s helped me establish connections and show I have a genuine interest in the community. I’m very thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had.”
During his retirement ceremony, speakers time and again spoke to his character, dedication and work ethic.
Town manager Chris Hively praised Brooking for serving the town for years.
“What a huge accomplishment you’ve made, you chose a very difficult profession and you not only stuck through it for a very long time but you excelled at every step along the way,” Hively said. “I can only imagine how many lives you’ve touched through your career along the way.”
“There’s no shortcuts to gain the expertise that you have,” Hively said. “These skills are rare and can only be achieved by the long and dedicated service you’ve had.”
Brooking said one of his fondest memories is serving as the town’s K9 officer with his partner and furry friend Dewey. He was the town’s first K9 officer in years, and Dewey served with him for six years before retiring to Brooking’s home.
“His personality and my personality were exactly alike and that’s one of the fondest memories I’ve had,” Brooking said.
Former CPD officer Michael Showalter shared one of his favorite stories from Brooking’s career - one that included Dewey, “the Pizza Dog.”
“Rick (Pinksaw) and I were working CID one night and one of the officers pulled a vehicle over and they needed a drug search,” Showalter said. “The first complaint I ever got on Richard about not being able to control his dog, the guy wasn’t upset about getting his car searched, but he was upset because Richard let his dog loose in the backseat and the dog ate the guy’s pepperoni pizza.”
Mark W. Nowacki, Director, Culpeper Victim/Witness Program, said that Brooking’s friendship is one professional relationship that he will cherish.
“It’s truly an honor and privilege to have known Richard and call him a friend all these years,” Nowacki said. “He’s become one of my best friends through work and I will especially miss our times meeting up for breakfast and having coffee.”
Culpeper Mayor Mike Olinger remembers Brooking when he first started and Olinger was a 16-year-old cruising through town. Even then, Brooking provided respect to everyone he dealt with.
“He’s one of the most level-headed, honest police officers I’ve ever run across,” Olinger said. “He’ll truly be missed and he’ll be hard to replaced.”
Major Chris Settle joked about Brooking’s impressive physique and presented him with a gift from the entire department - a 10-foot paddleboard.
“Nobody could be as fine of a gentleman and police officer as Richard,” Settle said. “Whenever I came up I looked up to Richard. Whenever you wanted to know about someone or find someone it was either Richard, (Nate) Jasper or Sharon (Brown).”
Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins said that Brooking did things the right way.
“He’s a hometown guy who just serves the community in such a great way,” Sheriff Jenkins said.
“It’s been truly an honor to call Richard a friend and get to know how he does things.”
CPD Chief Chris Jenkins recommended Brooking to be hired and said that he’s been blessed to have worked with him throughout the many years.
“We were fortunate to have so many great mentors in Roscoe Ford, Nate Jasper, we came along at a great time,” Chief Jenkins said. “We’ve been through a lot of good times, we’ve been through some not so good times. To call you a friend is more important than anything to me.
“There’s one test Roscoe taught me, did you leave it better than you found it, it’s an easy answer - yes.”