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COVERT FILE/When Blizzards Arrive, Sheriff and Staff Start Shoveling

Harry Covert
By Harry Covert
Posted on Feb 23,2010
Filed Under Local Politics , Politics,

Photo by Harry Covert <br /><br />Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, driving a snow plow, rescued a Virginia Power truck on Aspen Street.
Photo by Harry Covert
Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, driving a snow plow, rescued a Virginia Power
truck on Aspen Street.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. -  Sheriff Dana Lawhorne didn’t wait to marshal his "troops" into action when the two blizzards struck his beloved Alexandria, the latest on Feb. 5.  
First thing he did was assign members of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, both sworn and civilian, for duty in the City’s Emergency Operations Center.  They performed admirably during the entire length of the blizzard.

At the same time, deputies were assigned around-the-clock duty, not only for their regular Alexandria Detention Center duty but jumped into action backing up the city's police and fire departments as the snow fell in record numbers.   

Lawhorne didn’t just stand around and watch.  
He supplemented the snow plowing and snow shoveling by driving the snow plows himself.  He was photographed using the Sheriff’s snow plow on main arteries in Old Town and the side streets.  
He set the pace and worked the long hours along with others.  He took the wheel of the snow plow and moved the snow around the Detention Center, enabling police officers and deputies to continue their duties.  On several occasions he helped stranded motorists and official vehicles stuck in piles of snow.

Photo by Harry Covert <br /><br />The Sheriff also spent time digging out walkways for senior citizens.
Photo by Harry Covert
The Sheriff also spent time digging out
walkways for senior citizens.

On the Wednesday snow he pulled out a Virginia Power truck which got stuck on Aspen Street.  The rest of the day he cleared the fronts of firehouses and ran EMS/FIRE calls; plowing them so emergency vehicles could reach residents.  Other days after the storm, Lawhorne drove to homes of numerous senior citizens and dug them out.   

Other efforts by the Sheriff's Office were to staff the city’s EOC, send staff to the call center, plowing streets and fire stations.  Many senior citizens were "dug out," meals on wheels delivered and helped police transport arrestees to the jail.  The inmate work force dug out fire hydrants.

All members of the sheriff’s command staff were busy, too, joining the rank and file performing emergency tasks around the city.

“This was a genuine team effort,” Lawhorne said.  “I am proud of the work the Sheriff’s Office staff completed to help the city and our citizens.  I’m a strong believer in community participation and our men and women are always ready to go the extra mile in the extra duty.”  
Many citizens saw Sheriff Lawhorne and Chief Deputy Tim Gleeson shoveling sidewalks for numerous residents.

Various sheriff's commanders also pitched in to assist students returning to school last week, serving as “school crossing guards.”  
This was vital support since public schools needed extra help.  “We wanted to do our part in protecting these students, as they faced snow and ice going back to classes,” Lawhorne said.  The sheriff’s inmate work detail has become a fixture in assisting the city and the city schools and clearing and cleaning school sites.

And, despite all of the emergency efforts, Chief Deputy Lenny George reported that "our core mission of safely managing the Adult Detention Center was uninterrupted during these unprecedented weather events.  
In addition to managing our daily population of 440 inmates, we had to continue to provide 24-hour medical and mental health services as well as serve over 15,000 meals to security staff and inmates.  We met this challenge in seamless fashion."

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