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It wasn’t easy for Master Officer Josh Drury to get to where he is today.
The Newport News native grew up in what he calls an “unsavory environment” and was denied entrance into the military because of rods he had implanted in his back to treat scoliosis as a teenager, ending his childhood dream of working in the military special operations division.
As soon as he turned 21, he began applying to local police departments and has made his way up the career ladder at the James City County Police Department over the past 11 years.
On May 18, he was named Officer of the Year after being nominated by his supervisor, Lt. Stephen Humphries.
“Most cops say ‘[I became a police officer] because I wanted to help people,’” the 33-year-old said during an interview at the James City County Fire Station 2 on Pocahontas Trail. “I grew up in a sort of an unsavory environment, and I didn’t want to live that way, because so many people say, ‘Well this is where I came from, so this is where I ended up.’ That’s a bad way to look at life.”
Despite not being able to enlist in the military, Drury did all he could to make sure he became part of a special operations unit.
After six years of patrolling on the night shift, he submitted a letter of interest, received a recommendation from his supervisor, endured a challenging physical test and interviewed with the command staff before securing a spot on the James City County SWAT Team in 2010.
“If something gets so bad that the SWAT team needs to be involved, it’s a great way to protect officers, and the SWAT team guys get a lot more training, so I think it helps me to be a better officer out here on the streets,” he said.
He said the SWAT team is deployed regularly for drug-related search warrants in the county and works closely with the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force, which consists of officers from several localities in the area.
Drury now works the day shift, patrolling the county from Grove to the Newport News line. Along with his SWAT team duties, he is a field training officer, taking police recruits fresh out of the academy and mentoring them for eight weeks out in the field.
He said he enjoys teaching the new officers the ins and outs of a patrol shift, which lasts nine-and-a-half hours.
“It’s just another way to make a difference,” Drury said.
He was nominated for officer of the year partly because of his initiative in several department-wide projects. Last year, James City County secured funds to purchase new handguns for the 100 officers in the police department.
Unhappy with the department’s HK 45 caliber handguns, Drury wanted to avoid getting the same, newer model, so he pored through data from FBI’s ballistics research and from medical journals to find the gun he thought would be best for the officers. After a successful pitch to command staff, he was able to get a Glock 9 mm pistol in every officer’s holster.
He was also recognized for the lesson plans he created for firearms training and building clearance training, among other initiatives.
The Officer of the Year award took him by surprise, but he remains humble even if the value of the title has not yet worn off.
“It means a lot. It’s nice to know I’ve been recognized,” he said. “At the same time, there are plenty of other officers who do just as much and more than I do.”
He said his personal motto to “always try to make something better” helped him earn his current title.
“I will continue to look for ways to help the department and continue to look for advancement s in equipment and training. If you go into a situation and you can’t identify some way to make it better, you’re not working hard enough.”