Fluvanna Faces: Capt. Aaron Hurd, Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office

By Harvey J. Sorum

Captain Hurd, are you a native of Fluvanna County? If not, why did you choose to live in Fluvanna?

I am not native to Fluvanna County, but I have lived in and served Fluvanna County since 2003. The original move was a requirement of my employment as a Virginia Game Warden (now called Conservation Police Officers). In 2006, I accepted an appointment as a deputy sheriff. This is a great community to live and work in and this office was the place I wanted to continue my career in law enforcement.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have wanted a career in law enforcement for as long as I can remember. I graduated from Liberty University with a bachelor’s degree in government in 2002, and immediately began applying for jobs in this field. I was fortunate to be selected to become a Virginia game warden and, at the completion of police academy, was assigned to Fluvanna County. A requirement of the job was to live in the assigned county; so, I moved here in 2003. During college and the first few years of my law enforcement career, I also served in the United States Coast Guard Reserve at the Marine Safety Office in Hampton Roads conducting foreign vessel safety inspections on container and cargo ships as they arrived and departed the shores of Virginia.

In 2006, I made the decision to accept an appointment as a deputy sheriff here in Fluvanna County. As a game warden, I had an excellent working relationship with the deputies and supervisors here, so I had an inside view of how great a place this is to work. Throughout my time here, I have held multiple positions and worked on all manner of cases. I served as a deputy sheriff, a sergeant and the lieutenant in the patrol section, I served as an investigator, a sergeant and the lieutenant in the investigations section, and I served as the administrative lieutenant before most recently being appointed as the captain overseeing the patrol and investigations sections.

I have been fortunate to attend many types of training including multiple supervisory and personnel management courses, crime scene and investigations courses, and maritime law enforcement techniques, all in addition to the standard in-service training required of law enforcement officers to re-certify every two years. During my tenure in investigations, I was able to attend training related to the investigation of Internet Crimes Against Children and become certified in various computer forensic and mobile device examination tools. Also, during that time, I went back to school and was awarded a master’s degree in information assurance from Strayer University.

Were you always in law enforcement?

Through high school and college, I worked a variety of jobs including working in restaurants and retail spaces. Almost all my post-college work experience has been in law enforcement.

What is the process for becoming a deputy sheriff?

The process for becoming a deputy sheriff begins long before someone fills out an application or stops by our office to speak to one of us. Because this is a position of public trust, decisions an individual makes early in their life have great impact on their later desire to enter this profession. People do make mistakes, and many can be overcome with time and changes in behavior, but making good decisions early on certainly makes the path to a career in law enforcement much easier. In our great commonwealth, deputy sheriffs serve at the pleasure of the sheriff, and he holds the final decision in hiring the best people to serve this community.

The application process begins with a person who meets the minimum standards to be a deputy sheriff, completing a Commonwealth of Virginia Employment Application and submitting it to the sheriff or the Fluvanna County Human Resources Department. The minimum standards for a successful candidate include being 21 years of age, having a high school. diploma or equivalency, possessing a current valid operator’s license, being able to successfully complete a background investigation, a physical evaluation, and a psychological examination.

Once the application is received and evaluated, successful candidates are scheduled for an in-person interview. If selected to move on, an extensive background investigation is undertaken where the candidate’s personal and work history, criminal history, driving history and other factors are documented then reviewed by the command staff. A decision is then made on whether to make a conditional offer of employment. If the offer is made and accepted, the candidate is required to undergo a physical (medical) and psychological screening. The final decision for offering an appointment resides with the sheriff. He generally interviews the candidate at this point and makes the decision on the final offer.

Why did you select law enforcement as a career and how long have you been a law enforcement officer?

I grew up in a law enforcement family and saw the impact this profession has on people. Yes, there is an impact related to making arrests and collecting evidence that is used to convict offenders of crimes. But there is a larger impact that can be made on the community we serve that is never related to an arrest. Showing up and being there for someone in crisis has a profound effect on people, including the deputy. We cannot solve every problem for every person exactly the way that they wish we would. But when we strive to live out our oath to impartially apply the law and uphold the Constitution, we can have a positive impact on the community we serve. This has been my goal for the past 21 years while serving this community as a law enforcement officer.

In today’s world, law enforcement is one of the most dangerous jobs.  Knowing  this, would you have still decided to become a sheriff?

Yes, the dangers are well known to society, and I was aware of them before making the choice. Dangers have changed over the years, but so has training and equipment. Solid communication skills, a level head, and good decision-making also help mitigate the risks.

What is the most harrowing experience you have had? Most impactful experiences?

Calls for disturbances are always highly concerning. They have such a wide range of severity that many times the deputy doesn’t know what they are truly responding to until they arrive. This is related to several factors like the complainant not knowing what is happening or not being able to describe what is happening, and the situation escalating or de-escalating during the response time. Disturbances can also just simply vary. Two people who had a verbal argument in the past and delayed the report may be called in as a disturbance. Likewise, currently ongoing acts of violence, happening at the time of the call like in the case of many domestic violence disturbances, may also be reported as a disturbance. The responding deputies must process all of the possibilities and respond to each call appropriately.

Investigating cases of child abuse and internet crimes against children will always top the list when I look back on the most impactful investigations of my career. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Any deputy sheriff who has worked these types of cases will always carry them in their mind. We are fortunate to have a great multi-disciplinary team here in Fluvanna to work on these cases together and bring as many positive outcomes to the victims as possible.

Do you think those in law enforcement get thanks of appreciation from the people you serve?

We are exceptionally blessed to have support and appreciation from this community. There are very few weeks out of the year that there aren’t baked goods or cards and posters made by various school age groups, civic organizations, and private citizens adorning our break room. This may not be the same everywhere in the nation, but we have learned that when we treat people with respect, whether they are a victim or are accused of a crime, all involved parties benefit. This community relationship is one of our highest priorities.

What are some of the recommendations you would like to make to the public to help you with your job and make residents safer?

Be alert to fraud. If you receive an e-mail or phone call or letter that is too good to be true (winning a contest you didn’t enter or someone calling asking for money to give to a family member in distress), do not let your first reaction be to provide or confirm any personal information. If this happens, feel free to contact our office to seek advice on the validity of the information.

Drive carefully and safely. Speed limits, road signs, seatbelts and impaired/distracted driving laws are there for your safety and the safety of your family, friends, and neighbors. Be alert to them and make good decisions in advance so that you arrive safely.

Be present in the lives of your kids and grandkids. Online safety is a significant concern in a community like ours. Monitor online activity of those you are responsible for. By setting appropriate boundaries like not allowing mobile devices in private areas of a home or preventing unlimited access to the world wide web and all the things it contains are a great start to keeping kids safe.

(Editor’s note: On April 25, 2022, Aaron Hurd received the 2022 Unsung Heroes Award by Virginia Attorney General Miryares.  The Unsung Heroes Award program recognizes individuals who provide outstanding service and support to victims of crime in the Commonwealth.)

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