Editor’s Note: This story incorporates a correction to the printed version. The latest Sheriff’s Office employee to leave the department for the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office was dispatcher Katie Burke, not (as the story said) patrol Deputy Angela Deavers.
After Scott Jenkins left the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) to take over as the sheriff of Culpeper County this January, the former second-in-command to Sheriff Connie Smith has hired four full-time RCSO employees to work for the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office – including, most recently, dispatcher Katie Burke. Also this month, patrol deputy Angela Deavers resigned from the RCSO.
At a Jan. 4 board of supervisors meeting, Jenkins told the board that he would keep hiring RCSO staff if the county continued to train its officers so well and pay them so little, before suggesting that the board consider a three-percent, across-the-board salary increase for RCSO employees.
“Deputy sheriffs are not paid comparable to other counties; the sheriff here gets what my lieutenants get in Culpeper,” Jenkins said. “I will take the best employees I can from here, because they are getting good training here.”
Smith has admittedly had a tough time filling her open positions.
“With me having people leave, and trying to get new people to come here, it’s put a strain on everybody,” Smith said last month, noting that Capt. J.C. Welch and she had even been fielding dispatch calls, while five RCSO positions remained empty. Smith said that although her employees found themselves performing tasks outside their job descriptions to keep things running, she hadn’t heard one complaint.
This week Smith introduced a new chief deputy, a patrol deputy and two dispatchers, leaving just Deavers’ slot left to fill.
Chief Deputy John Arstino
Major John Arstino had visited the county a few times before first contacting Smith in January about the open position – though he’d been undercover each time, operating as a special officer assigned to the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force.
“When I worked undercover, I started coming out here from time to time, and when I needed assistance from someone in this office, they were great to me; I came to enjoy how they really rolled out the red carpet for me,” Arstino said this week. “There was just something that kept attracting me to come back here, and when I heard about an opening, and spoke with Connie, I knew this was what I wanted . . . And now that I work here, my family comes over [from Fauquier] all the time – and I could really see us ending up here more permanently.”
Arstino began his career in law enforcement at 18, as a fire department volunteer dispatcher for the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office. In 1997 he became a patrol deputy, then worked his way up the ranks to sergeant of patrol. From 1997 to 2010, Arstino was a member of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (Fauquier’s SWAT team). In the late 1990’s, Arstino became Fauquier’s first drug-canine handler.
In 2005, Arstino became a major crimes detective with FCSO, specializing in fire and explosives. In 2006, he was assigned to special investigations into drug-related organized crime. Arstino was sworn in as a special officer of the Virginia State Police, assigned to the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gangs Task Force in 2007.
In September 2009, Arstino orchestrated the largest drug interdiction in Fauquier County history, involving 76 law enforcement officers from 21 agencies and 22 canines. The countywide traffic stop and seizure mission lasted eight hours; 359 traffic stops led to 31 drug arrests, 88 traffic summonses, 44 criminal arrests and three houses were searched as a result. Nearly $16,000 worth of illegal drugs were confiscated, most of it marijuana.
Patrol Deputy Chad Abate
Chad Abate said he wanted to make the switch from working in jails at FCSO to getting out on the road, on patrol. So when he saw an opening for patrol deputy in Rappahannock, he was interested.
“Then I met Connie in October, and fell head over heels in love with her and the area, and the decision was easy,” Abate joked on Monday. “But really, this is a great group to work with.”
Like Arstino, Abate has prior experience in drug enforcement, formerly assigned to work cases as an undercover agent through the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug task force.
Dispatcher Janice Hatcher
Janice Hatcher, a current Strasburg resident, graduated from RCHS in 1999. After attending Bluefield College, she worked in customer service for seven years. Hatcher said she recently found an ad in the Rappahannock News for an open dispatcher position.
“This is kind of a ‘welcome home’ for me, and Connie has really made an effort to take care of me since I returned to the county,” Hatcher said. “And though my long term goal is to be out on the road, right now I’m enjoying my work on dispatch.”
Taylor Berta, dispatcher
Eighteen-year-old Taylor Berta graduated from Rappahannock County High School last year, and now works in dispatch, communications and corrections for her ninth-grade softball coach [Connie Smith].
“I had been telling her since I was 15 or 16 that I would be working here some day,” Berta said. “And finally it worked out and here I am.”
Berta described working for RCSO as kind of a RCHS reunion (18 of Smith’s 29 employees are RCHS graduates), and she hopes “to become a detective, and take J.C.’s [chief investigator] job one day.”