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First cruiser competition a huge success

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | May 14, 2021

Laura Whittington, town administrator for Bolivar, served as a judge at the first Cruiser Competition hosted by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday. Toni Milbourne

BARDANE — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office hosted the first annual Cruiser Competition last Saturday, welcoming more than 20 vehicles from departments across three states. According to Lt. Rob Sell, who helped coordinate the event, participating police departments included Jefferson County, Ranson, Martinsburg, Berkeley County, West Virginia State Police, Customs and Border Patrol, Maryland State Police, Berryville and Winchester, Virginia, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department, Berkeley Springs, Frederick, Maryland and Paw Paw.

Jefferson County Sheriff Tom Hansen, who had proposed the idea because of other areas that have similar exhibitions to kick off National Police Week, was pleased with the turn out.

An opening ceremony welcomed guests and featured members of the Jefferson High School Junior ROTC posting the colors, as Cadet Evan Pearson sang the National Anthem.

“It’s been a good day,” Hansen said, in spite of some rain clouds that caused officers and visitors to run for cover. The sun soon came back out and officers could be found wiping down their vehicles, as judges made their way through the parking lot checking off boxes.

Serving as judges were Prosecuting Attorney Matt Harvey, Bolivar Administrator Laura Whittington, Walmart loss prevention team members D.J. McCauley and Rebecca Herndon-Vance and Retired Chief Master Sgt. Rich Fraysier. Throughout the day, the judges could be seen with clipboards in hand, as they judged both marked cars and unmarked cars, rating them on lighting, graphics, interior and technology and overall appearance.

“It’s more difficult than I expected,” Harvey said, as he checked out the interior of one vehicle.

Herndon-Vance agreed, saying it was a lot more than what she thought it would be.

“But it is such an honor to be selected,” she said. “We [at Walmart] work closely with the officers. It is a comfort knowing they are right there.”

As the vehicles were judged, event attendees spent time walking among the police cars, stopping to listen to horns and sirens and to learn about what officers do in their jobs.

In addition to the police vehicles that were open for judging, there were other specialty vehicles on display including motorcycles, crime scene vehicles and armored vehicles.

“This event helped show the public who we are and what we do,” Hansen said. “We are not the bad guys.

“We do have to hire from the human race, and sometimes a bad one slips through the cracks. But we are made up of more than 98 percent of good people who run to the aid of people in trouble,” Hansen said.

At the end of the day, when all tallies were concluded, the marked vehicle winners were as follows: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and West Virginia State Police tied for first place; Ranson Police Department in second place and Frederick County (Md.) Sheriff’s Office in third place. Unmarked cars placed as follows: Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office K9 won first place; Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office won second place and Winchester City Police Department won third place.

A People’s Choice Award was voted on by attendees, and given to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit.

Each recipient received a paper certificate at the event, which will be replaced with a personalized plaque to hang in their departments.