The Operations Division of the Harrisonburg Police Department is the heart and soul of our agency as it is in any Police agency throughout the United States. It is currently comprised of four patrol squads, a bike patrol unit, and a uniformed traffic unit with two motorcycle officers. Additional specialty areas fall within Operations Division as well from commercial motor carrier inspectors, major accident investigators, K-9, S.W.A.T. and crisis negotiations teams. The Commander of Operations Division is Captain D. Claytor.
Each of the four patrol squads is made up of six to eight patrol officers depending on manpower and special assignments. Each squad has a Patrol Sergeant who is responsible for the day to day operation of the squad and directs field assignments. In addition there are three Lieutenants assigned to Patrol. One is in charge of the Special Operations unit and the remaining two are assigned as watch commanders for two of the four patrol squads. The remaining personnel on Patrol with the Harrisonburg Police Department hold the rank of Police Officers I and II and Master Police Officers.
PO I's are officers who are in the process of being trained and have yet to complete their 13 week basic academy and 10 week field training program. PO II's are those officers who are released for solo patrol assignments. PO II's receive a ranking insignia of one stripe once they have mastered one specialty skill area, requiring at least 40 hours of training. The rank of Master Police Officer is reserved for those officers who have at least five years of police experience and at least two 40 hour specialties. Those who have been selected to hold this distinction have also faced an extremely competitive selection process due to a limited number of MPO openings.
The typical patrol officer in Harrisonburg has an average of 5 years of field experience. They work 12 hour shifts rotating from days to nights on a 14 day cycle. They patrol the City of Harrisonburg on a 24 hour basis in a variety of marked and un-marked police vehicles. The vehicle of choice is the Ford Crown Victoria, however included in the Patrol fleet are Chevrolet Blazers, Jeep Cherokees, Chevrolet Luminas, Ford and Chevrolet vans, and assorted special response vehicles.
The traffic unit operates two Kawasaki 1000 Police Motorcycles. They operate 12 months a year as weather permits. The traffic unit responds to traffic complaints as well as functioning in a proactive effort to make the streets of Harrisonburg, and the surrounding community more safe for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. In addition to the vehicles assigned and available to the rest of patrol the traffic unit has a full time motor carrier inspection vehicle as well as a self contained radar trailer and speed board to help with their efforts. The Harrisonburg Police Traffic unit works closely with the Virginia State Police in the regulation of commercial vehicle operations and the enforcement of commercial vehicle violations within the City limits.
Also assigned to Operations Division is the Bike Patrol unit within Special Operations. There are five officers and a supervisor currently assigned to Bike Patrol and selective enforcement activities. They work with and at times supplement patrol units. The bike patrol makes use of several types of Police model bicycles as well as utilizing marked and unmarked patrol vehicles to allow rapid response to problems areas. They work closely with the regional drug taskforce as well as the Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control board on drug and alcohol enforcement actions and investigations. They and other officers from the Police Department are occasionally assigned to undercover, or plain clothes patrol operations in high crime areas.
The K-9 unit of the Harrisonburg Police Department is made up of two full time officers. These officers have been partnered with Belgian Malinois dogs, Arco and Wilco. These dogs are cross trained as patrol, drug detecting, article search and cadaver dogs.
The Special Weapons and Tactics Unit of the Harrisonburg Police Department is a multi talented unit able to respond to most any type of incident from a barricade to a high risk warrant. The members of this team are full time officers or investigators who train together regularly to maintain their proficiency. Members of our S.W.A.T. team regularly join with members of the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office S.W.A.T. team when additional manpower is required by either unit. Selection to this unit is highly competitive and S.W.A.T. is a sought after assignment.
The Crisis Negotiations Team is currently made up of three sworn and one non-sworn personnel. Each member is assigned to other duties within the agency and responds on an as needed basis to emergencies. This team handles all of the technical as well as actual details of the negotiation process. Its members all have specialized training in the area of crisis negotiations and are utilized for incidents ranging from abductions and barricades to suicidal subjects.
Police Department currently has two trained accident investigators, both
of whom are also trained in reconstruction. They respond to any traffic
fatalities within the City limits. They also assist when
other major or serious accidents occur.
Police Operations Division can be reached at 540-434-2545 or for emergency calls within the City of Harrisonburg dial 911