Sheriff Hess: Trust essential to stability of the county

We have faced several months of challenges in our lives, but nothing could have prepared us for the horrific video showing the heart-rending death of George Floyd thru acts committed by police officers of the Minneapolis Police Department. I am appalled and saddened by this needless and tragic death at the hands of these officers. There is no place in law-enforcement for officers who senselessly kill, or allow to be killed, the very people we are sworn to protect. Law enforcement officers who show willful and wanton disregard for human life and basic human dignity must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. My heart is with the family, friends and community of George Floyd, and I am keeping them in my prayers.

I understand that our Fluvanna African American community is experiencing pain, anger and despair at another senseless death; I hear and understand your concerns and I will be here to serve you during this difficult time. My door is always open to anyone who has a concern or need, and we encourage you to please bring them to my attention.

Trust between the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens we protect and serve is essential to the stability of our community. Our citizens deserve an agency that has the integrity to provide professional law enforcement services. We work to provide strong community services by applying the 21st Century Policing practices established by President Obama’s task force. I had the pleasure of meeting with President Obama and other sheriffs and chiefs in 2016. This office has striven to follow the six pillars recommended by the president’s task force: Building Trust and Legitimacy, Police and Oversight, Technology and Social Media, Community Policing and Crime Reduction, Training and Education, and Officer Wellness and Safety. It is an ongoing goal that we work towards achieving every day – but we are human, and we realize there is always room to improve our actions and to learn from one another.

In the past, we have partnered with Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip to provide several community forums addressing community policing and the concerns of Fluvanna residents. Participants included members of the Board of Supervisors, members and pastors from our faith and business communities and other partners. I have realized it has been too long since we held these kinds of conversations. When the governor lifts restrictions on gatherings, I will once again schedule several community forums so that we can address any concerns and or needs that arise together.

In the meantime, deputies will continue to train on crisis intervention, cultural diversity, how to avoid bias-based policing, and the proper use-of-force. We will continue to use our body worn cameras to document all citizen/ law enforcement encounters. We will continue to serve Fluvanna County to the best of our ability to ensure everyone’s safety. If there is something we can do to improve, please let me know. Thank you for affording me the opportunity to serve as your sheriff. – E.B Hess

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