There’s a New Sheriff’s Association President in Town

outcomes 20

T here’s a new Virginia Sheriff’s Association president in town, and he’s a Bluefield College graduate, Sheriff Richard Vaughan. A gentle man of 46 from Fries, Virginia, Vaughan’s career in law enforcement spans 21 years, including stints as a conservation officer, a sheriff’s deputy and an investigator. Since 2007, a year after he earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice through Bluefield College’s online degree program, he has served as sheriff of Grayson County. Now in his second term as sheriff, Vaughan has reached another professional milestone. He has been elected president of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association (VSA), an organization of 8,900 members that represents the interests and serves as the primary voice for law enforcement and sheriffs’ offices in the Virginia General Assembly. But Vaughan’s career as sheriff didn’t begin as pleasant as most recent years. In fact, it began with significant drama with a triple homicide case involving suspect Freddie Hammer. Killers don’t come much colder than Hammer, who is serving eight life sentences in state prison. He has admitted to more than a dozen murders, and may have committed up to 17. But before all that, Vaughan, the new sheriff in town, was sitting at the suspect’s kitchen table, staring at this alleged serial killer. Known as a “mind-gamer,” Hammer was smart, and at this moment, pleasant and

jovial. Just like any self-respecting con man, he was calmly detailing his alibi.

Unlucky for Hammer, Vaughan had completed excellent training at two community colleges, earned his criminal justice degree at Bluefield College, and trained at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science Academy. He knew how to conduct an effective investigation, collect evidence, and follow it all the way to conviction. Or, should we say, in this case, multiple convictions. Hammer’s eventual total was seven counts of capital murder. After an initiation like that, one would expect to meet a sheriff who is gruff and jaded. Not so. Instead, Vaughan is cheerful and grounded and possesses the confidence that is expected from someone in law enforcement. He is also a religious man. He and his wife, Amy, and their two children are very active at Fries Pentecostal Holiness Church. And while Freddie Hammer may have been a very dangerous criminal, he wasn’t the last Vaughan would encounter. If there is a silver lining to the story, it is that Vaughan and his colleagues are up to the challenge of keeping Virginians safe, bringing the guilty to justice, watching the backs of their own, and keeping their life in balance as they do it.

Original article by Bonnie Atwood for Capitol Connections, VCCQM.org.

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