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Growing up, Robert “Bob” Deeds said he never gave much thought to the idea of becoming a police officer.
However, after serving the Commonwealth for 30 years as a state trooper and nearly 15 years as Williamsburg-James City County’s sheriff, he said he has found the career that gets him out of bed in the morning and is running for re-election to keep it.
“This is a serious job and a serious responsibility, and we take it that way every day,” Deeds said. “I enjoy being here and doing this and I hope to continue.”
Deeds, 70, began his law enforcement career in the 1960s as a trooper with the Virginia State Police. He rose through the ranks and served different areas of the state before retiring with the rank of first sergeant in 1996.
“Once I started I realized this was it, and I would do it all again,” Deeds said.
He first decided to run for public office when he was still with the state police, noting the position appealed to him after seeing how different sheriff’s offices operated throughout the state. He has served as sheriff since 2000 and faces his first challenger this year, retired law enforcement officer Tim Davis.
Deeds announced his re-election bid after consulting family members and trusted friends, who encouraged him and assured him the office benefited from his leadership.
“I took that as a sign that I made the right decision,” Deeds said. “I would not have decided to run again if I wasn’t fully convinced that I could continue to deliver excellent service to our community and our citizens, because that’s who we all work for.”
Deeds said earning accreditation in 2009 was one of the most significant accomplishments for the office during his time as sheriff. The accreditation, which is reviewed every four years, was renewed in 2013, Deeds said.
“That was very important to me, to get that accreditation and those seals on our cars and on our stationery, to say we’re a professional law enforcement agency,” Deeds said. “We meet high standards and we continue to do that daily.”
If re-elected, Deeds said he would focus on funding more training and development opportunities for deputies, noting the office already exceeds the minimum state training requirement of 40 hours every two years. He said he would also seek grants for technology that can streamline the process of serving court papers.
He said security remains a critical issue for the office and steps have been taken to make the Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse safer, including the installation of bullet-proof panels and a larger desk in the lobby in 2012.
He said deputies have been trained to respond to active shooter situations and are prepared to offer assistance to the Williamsburg and James City County police departments if they ever need more manpower.
However, he said the work the deputies do in the courthouse, especially with inmates, is essential to fulfilling the duty of the sheriff’s office.
“It takes bodies to move the inmates around and we have to do it in a safe manner,” Deeds said. “We’re not going to let one deputy escort six or eight inmates. We’re going to do a couple at a time.”
As a leader, Deeds said he sets high expectations for the deputies and promotes collaboration. If elected to another term, Deeds said he hopes to work alongside the deputies to fulfill their mandated responsibilities and support the local police departments.
“If people can look at that and feel like we’ve done okay, then I’ll feel okay about it,” Deeds said. “We’re going to do everything we can do here to make that happen.”