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Deputy First Class Damon Radcliffe knew from the age of 3 he wanted to be in law enforcement.
“You should listen to my mom tell it,” the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputy said, laughing. “Everything I did in college prior to going to the police academy was all geared towards wearing the uniform.”
Radcliffe was recently presented with the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award by the Virginia Peninsula Crime Stoppers, a citizen-based organization that works with local law enforcement offices to provide citizens with an anonymous tip line — 888-LOCK-U-UP — to report criminal activity.
“It does feel good to receive the award,” the Denbigh native said. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it because it is such a prestigious award.”
Radcliffe was recruited to play basketball at Albright College in Pennsylvania, a Division III school, and although he said he is retired from the game, he still uses lessons he learned on the court during his day-to-day interactions with the other deputies.
“I enjoy being a role model for [younger deputies]. It’s kind of like being the captain of a basketball team,” he said, adding as a senior deputy, he is the “go-to guy” for the younger deputies. “I kind of play that role; I’m not the head coach, I’m not the assistant coach, I’m the guy they go to right before they go to the coach.”
Formerly a police officer for the College of William & Mary and the City of Williamsburg, Radcliffe moved to the Sheriff’s Office after seven years in law enforcement in August 2008. Many of his friends already worked at YPSO, and he felt he would receive more opportunities in a larger jurisdiction.
He was particularly drawn to the idea of working for Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs, who said made a big impression on him a few years ago.
“We were doing an operation down at the beach front and he was in full battle gear, kind of like we were. He wasn’t in the rear with the gear, like most people say,” he said.
As one of the senior deputies on the Alpha shift, Radcliffe is a “floater” and is not assigned to a particular area of York County. Rather, he patrols throughout the entire 216 square miles of York County during his 12-hour rotating shift.
“I get pulled in 90 different directions all night long, but I enjoy it, it keeps me busy,” he said, adding he is able to interact with his coworkers more this way.
He is also a member of the emergency response team and a field training officer. He also helps Lt. Jeff Kerr with the annual Police Unity Tour — a three-day bike trek deputies and other law enforcement officers participate in to honor comrades who have fallen during the line of duty — and is active with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“He’s not only a great deputy, he gives back to his community,” said Lt. Dennis Ivey, the office’s community and media relations spokesperson.