Much has changed within the Dumfries Police Department since the shake-up of department almost four years ago.
“We have new faces, new backgrounds,” Dumfries Chief Rebecca Edwards said in a recent interview. “The agency, since March 2010, has really worked to improve our community outreach, interaction with the community, to be more open and approachable to the community.
We’ve increased criminal enforcement, traffic enforcement and working with the citizens,” she said.
The police officers’ now have new uniform shirts symbolizing the new era of Dumfries policing.
In 2010, the department went through six months of change and controversy. The longtime police chief retired, a senior officer was fired, another senior officer resigned one day after being placed on suspension and another officer resigning after an internal investigation.
Retired Prince William police officers Ray Colgan, Dan Taber and Rob Forker took turns in the top job to lead the restructuring of the Dumfries department before Edwards was named to the post last summer.
Each carried on the changes of their predecessor, building on the improvements.
Gone were the tinted windows in the police cruisers many found intimidating. Dumfries officers now get out of those cruisers on foot patrols of the neighborhoods.
Dumfries police recruits now attend the Prince William County Basic Law Enforcement Academy and work closely with the county police counterparts, a practice not in place before the restructuring.
The officers have lunch with Dumfries Elementary School students and read to them. There is even a school resource officer assigned to the school making it the only elementary school in the county to have one. The force sponsors a summer Kid’s Academy for rising sixth graders.
Only two of the officers in the department have been there more than three years. In recent months, Dumfries has hired five new officers.
Edwards received 36 applications after advertising last fall.
“I told the officers, ‘That was a direct reflection of their activity and the rapport they are building with the community,’” she said. “They are the face of the department.”
Two -- Chad Polliard and Abel Garcia – were certified officers when they were hired.
Travis “Deshawn” Sims has completed the Prince William County Basic Law Enforcement Academy. Matthew D. Arnsparger and Ramon A. Smith are still attending.
Sims, Garcia, Arnsparger and Smith are former Marines.
There also were two recent promotions within the department. Sgt. Mark Robinson was promoted to captain and Michael Fink to sergeant.
“The community will be excited and impressed when they meet these officers and get to work with them,” Edwards said.
Robinson has been with the department the longest, nine years. He is also a former Marine. Fink, a Dumfries native, has been with the department almost three years.
The Dumfries police uniform has been changed from all black to a light gray shirt and black pants.
“The officers had input. We think the contrast looks sharp,” she said. “The uniform is a symbol and a direct reflection of the department.”
Another change is that officers will have silver trimmed patches and supervisors will have gold trimmed patches.
“I have nothing negative to say about the agency in the past,” Edwards said. “These are just positive changes that represent the new department.”