Following his graduation from Abingdon High School, Blake continued his education at Virginia Highlands Community College and Bluefield State College.
Over 32 years, 25 years Washington County VA Sheriff's Office previously as Chief Deputy and has served the last 7 years as Chief of Police at VHCC
Married for 29 years to wife Kim and they have 2 children Dylan and Kori.
Deputy at Sheriff’s Office where he has served on specialty teams and jobs such as dive team, SWAT team, canine handler, Criminal investigator, school resource, 911 dispatcher, and etc. Blake was promoted in 2003 as Major or Chief Deputy in charge of all divisions at the Sheriff’s Office. He managed the Sheriff’s Office budget, policy and procedures, Court Security, Emergency Medical Dispatch, Patrol Division, Investigations Division, Civil Process, Washington County Jail, Animal Control, School resource, Neighborhood watch, specialized teams such as SWAT, canine teams, mounted patrol, bike patrol, dive team, and various personnel issues. During my tenure as Chief Deputy, I coordinated in 2006 the Washington County VA Sheriff’s Office initial State accreditation and later reaccreditation State certifications from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. While Chief Deputy I attended the University of Louisville’s Southern Police Academy. The training is designed to develop informed, effective, ethically and technically competent law enforcement managers who are capable of assuming positions of leadership. In June 2012 I was chosen to lead the Virginia Highlands Community College Police Department as Chief of Police. I currently serve on various teams such as the Virginia Community College System threat assessment team, Executive Board member Southwest Criminal Justice Academy, and the Washington County/ City of Bristol sexual assault response team.
I want to include mental health training to all deputies at the Sheriff’s Office. I will require Crisis Intervention Team training that teaches officers how to handle persons in crisis for a positive outcome. This training provides a better understanding of persons in crisis and how to properly help and communicate. It is a specialized training that brings together local stakeholders, including law enforcement officers, emergency dispatchers, mental health treatment providers, consumers of mental health services and others(such as hospitals, emergency medical care facilities, non-law enforcement first responders, and family advocates). The goal is to improve multi-systems’ response to persons experiencing behavioral health crises who come into contact with law enforcement first responders. I currently serve on the Highlands Crisis Intervention Team Advisory Committee. I want to have positive outcomes in dealing with persons in crisis so that they are treated with the upmost respect and kindness.
Washington County is constantly facing numerous crimes that are about 90% drug related. The Methamphetamine epidemic has increased other drug use such as heroin, fentanyl, Suboxone, methadone, and opiate derivatives. I want to create prevention methods such as handouts, drug awareness, use and abuse education, and consequences in the public schools, community centers, houses of worship, and other community events in Washington County. I want to build relationships with the communities to recognize and report drug activities to the Sheriff’s Office. It the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office to provide awareness and education about the drug problem and current drug trends and with the recognition it incorporates a community wide effort to recognize production, drug use, and distribution techniques therefore creating safer communities.
If elected Sheriff, I intend to increase drug enforcement efforts and launch the most aggressive enforcement against drug dealers, importers, and illegal drug manufacturers in Washington County’s history. I also want to work with the “Drug Court “and drug rehabilitation programs to assist drug users in getting needed help to recovery.
Faith, Family, and Friends are the biggest influences on offenders correcting wrong doings or rehabilitation. If you work hard on the enforcement and prevention you reduce the overall crime rate and offenders. I want to work with Faith based rehabilitation and mental health to help reduce the drug consumers and former inmates in the County. Drug Court is another great tool for putting responsibility on the offender for their actions usually as a first time offender. It is a collaborative effort between law enforcement, prosecutors, treatment providers, and community based support programs. I would like to focus on Juvenile offenders and high risk youth and implement with other community partners programs that focus on a strategic planning such as a structured program with community content and an effective delivery process.
I want to work with offenders and employers to incorporate them back into the workforce by becoming mentors. The offenders that have been previously incarcerated are typically hard working individuals. Some of the offenders have specialized trades or skills and need employers to “give them an opportunity” to prove themselves.
Having a diverse department creates an environment of confidence to the citizens and provides a more positive and effective outcome in public interactions. Positive interactions and intentional recruitment of qualified candidates in the community such as students attending local colleges is crucial. The recruits should be informed thoroughly of the job task, testing, standards, and the police training academy standards while being recruited. The successful recruitment of officers provides the Sheriff's Office with multicultural languages and culture trends creating a successful relationship with the communities served.
The Aggressive Criminal Enforcement (ACE) was held during the same time as a festival called “Bonnaroo”. The Bonnaroo festival has hundreds of thousands of attendees from all over the World. The festival hosts hundreds of musical artists from all genres of music such as Rock, Country, Hip Hop, Alternative,etc. The people going and coming from the festival vary in intent. Some of the people just want to go and enjoy the musical settings while others go for criminal activity such as distributing illegal drugs or other criminal activity. The officers working this enforcement effort help in slowing down usually young adult drivers on a much congested Interstate. I want to start a drug interdiction team to thwart the importation of illegal drugs on the Interstate. The Interstate 81 corridor is very popular with drug couriers because of the enforcement efforts being done on Interstate 95. The enforcement efforts on the Interstate raises lots of revenue for Washington County. The funds received from these efforts are several hundred thousand dollars a year. The General fund receives 40% of the ticket revenue and the Sheriff’s Office Receives 60%. The Sheriff’s Office portion of funds are used to purchase Sheriff’s Office vehicles, School Resource Officers salaries, officer’s working radar enforcement overtime pay, and various needed equipment. The funds from the enforcement save taxpayers lots of money by using offender money to fund law enforcement.
The immigration laws are Federal and the Sheriff’s Office has no way of deporting illegal immigrants.
If elected I want to develop working relationships with all Federal law enforcement agencies. I will develop and maintain deputies as being sworn as Federal Agents to assist other agencies in various enforcement efforts. Human trafficking is a crime that is growing in the United States. The traffickers sometimes use humans for forced labor, sex or sexual exploitation, adoption, transportation of illegal drugs, body parts, etc. The illegal importation of these humans expose these individuals to sometimes horrific and deadly conditions. There are various ethnic groups that human trafficking involves. There are enforcement efforts concentrating on waterways, airlines, and most popular is the U.S. Border. The enforcement of “illegal” immigrants is also vital to the immigrant safety and to the overall safety of the U.S. The imagination of terrorist organizations and how they can cause the most destruction and intimidation to people such as having illegal immigrants from other Countries be carriers of a deadly virus make their way into the U.S. population and cause mass casualties. These types of activities also increase the risk of spreading diseases such as HIV/AIDS because the illegal immigrants seldom seek medical attention.
The primary responsibility of a school resource officer is to maintain a safe environment by protecting all persons in an educational setting, environment, or function. The selection of these individuals is crucial to the success of the school resource officer program and the individuals they serve to bridge the gap between law enforcement and students. The selection is determined how the officer utilizes common sense with training and experience to effectively handle various situations. I want the officer to be able effectively to recognize behavior and/or mental health changes and provide services to the students. The officers need to be trained to render first aid and CPR. They also need specialty training in response to various situations such as active shooter, bomb threats, mental health crisis, sexual abuse, domestic violence, crime prevention thru environmental design, video surveillance, gangs, drug recognition, electronic media investigation, drug use recognition, and social skills. I also want the officers trained in emergency management, crisis management plans and coordinate training programs. The officers would also conduct exercise drills and be familiar with OSHA.
Graduated from Abingdon High School.
Worked for Sheriff's Office for 37 years, retiring to run for sheriff. Currently Captain in the Abingdon Fire Department where he has served for 42 years.
Married to Susan Baughman Berry for 36 years. They have one son Cade Berry.
During my tenure at the Sheriff's office I have served as a Purchasing Agent, Jailor, Civil Process server, Court Security and Patrol Captain. I have experience with managing accounts payable, invoices and proper records retention. I understand the operations of Courthouse and how to adequately provide a secure environment for the citizens of Washington County while conducting business there. I will work continually with the Commonwealth Attorney's, Judges and their staff to insure the court system works efficiently.
As the Patrol Captain, I was responsible for completing a yearly work schedule for that Division. I was the event Commander for the Washington County Fair and for Damascus Trail Days directing all Sheriff office Resources that was committed to those events each year.
I was the incident Commander in 2011 for the tornado that struck Washington County. Due to this incident I have attended National Incident Management training to better educate myself in case that type of incident ever happened again, or any type of events such as VIPs were to visit Washington County.
Deputies are trained at the academy level or at the agency level in Verbal de-escalation and Crisis Intervention Training.
I think educating the public about how methamphetamine effects the human body would be a start. The public needs to understand the signs of methamphetamine use and the behaviors associated with its use. The Sheriff needs to provide good communication avenues for citizens to report information about suspicious activity and an aggressive enforcement effort and training in advanced techniques for detecting illegal drugs for deputies. That along with developing partnerships with Federal, State and other local agencies to enhance our efforts.
The Sheriff's Office is currently involved with the Drug Court program. I would like to develop programs with Highlands Counseling service, Adult Skill Center and the Regional Jail Authority to provide skills for Job training, drug abuse education and mental health for inmates and families prior to their release.
Yes our Sheriff's Office should reflect the demographics of Washington County. I would like to start a recruiting effort toward bringing more qualified female and minorities along with just more qualified persons to the job force at the agency. Perhaps starting the recruiting at the High School level and then into the higher education levels in Washington County.
Most of the deputies that work the I-81 traffic do so on their days off. This allows them to earn extra income and helps the county by having extra manpower out to assist with a call for service if the need arises. These deputies are station on interstate and they are looking for traffic violations and illegal drug and human trafficking. So therefore there is an increase of deputies patrolling Interstate 81 4 or 5 days a week and at different hours of the day. There is an significant amount of revenue that is acquired by this practice, in the past it has been to the amount of somewhere about 1 to 1.2 million a year which is use to purchase equipment and supplement salaries.
Most immigration laws are federal laws and County Sheriff's don't enforce federal laws, however there has been some talk that the Trump Administration may allow County Sheriff's to begin enforcing these laws. In the past years that there was ever a need for assistance in immigration issues the Sheriff's Office has called upon the Federal Agencies for assistance and has lend assistance to federal agencies with immigration.
School Resource Officers are the main security arm of the school they work. They help with safe plan development, they conduct drills, such as active shooter and fire drills that are encompassed into the safety plans. They de-escalate problems and issues between students and students and staff members. They make arrests at schools for violations of the criminal codes. They patrol the school grounds that they work and they work any after school sports and academic events at their schools. They are trained in Crisis Intervention training, so that they may work in roles of counseling.
They should like working with children, they should be even tempered have patience and know how to defuse situations, have good people skills, build rapport, and be a role model for students. They must have been a good patrol deputy, be able to work without supervision, and have high integrity. These are some of the important criteria that I feel should be used to select a school resource officer.
Emory & Henry College, 1994 - BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Mass Comm; Business Mgt; Political Science
Va State Police Academy 1995
23+ Years of State and Local Law Enforcement; Private Industry & Business Owner; 30+ years Ministry/Church; Private Security
Married 24 years with 3 children; Reside in Abingdon
Compassion and fairness are two key components of my management style. During my last 5 years with the Va State Police, I oversaw the Virginia Criminal Information Network operation for 70+ law enforcement agencies from the New River to Lee County. My core responsibility was to ensure each agency remained in compliance with standards set forth by the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC) program. I supervised approximately 100 Agency Coordinators and provided training and instruction to those coordinators as well as hundreds of communications operators throughout the state.
I have also served as a Lead Instructor for the Commonwealth of Virginia Defensive Tactics program providing instruction on both the local and state level. Having been in supervisory roles in this function, I worked alongside instructors to produce a safe, yet comprehensive training environment for trainees.
During the last nearly 4 years, I served as a Security Operations Specialist for Universal Fibers, which employees nearly 1300 people worldwide. I manage and oversee the physical and personal security of the Universal Fibers Bristol location. I provide security support for our other US locations as well and advise for our global facilities when needed. Throughout my career I have had numerous opportunities to lead and manage churches, classes, programs, trainings and departments, all with the care, fortitude, compassion and drive to make each a success.
While deputies are trained with basic understanding in relation to the use of force continuum (to include verbal de-escalation) as it relates to mental heath disorders, there is an increased need for additional training to further aid those who are in the midst of a crisis. Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is a valuable asset and tool for deputies. My background in Trauma Counseling and Crisis Management give me the skills needed and ability to see the effectiveness of these training programs. Having deputies trained allows them to appropriately respond to individuals with a severe and persistent mental illness.The training helps with public safety and gives the officers additional insight when responding. When they are called to the scene, they are able to de-escalate the situation. That is the core function of CIT and I fully support all deputies and staff being well trained and well versed in this. In addition to training, I see the need to implement a SNIDS program for our county. Special Needs in Distress is a data base program that families can provide information about a loved one and their mental health disorder. If deputies respond to a call at that address, having the knowledge ahead of time of what a person may be struggling with will aid that deputy in how to better handle the call.
The raging drug epidemic in Washington County is tearing families apart. This is a problem bigger than just the Sheriff's Office. It is a problem that must be addressed by local, state and federal authorities working together through joint task force efforts. During my campaign, I have personally been notified by several concerned families of drug activity in our neighborhoods, from High Point to Meadowview to Glade Spring. As Sheriff, I ask for the same level of communication from the public. See something, say something.
I have also been in contact with representatives from the Attorney General's Office letting them know I will seek additional grant funding for drug enforcement efforts. Along with aggressive interdiction efforts, the educational outreach for our neighborhood watch programs will be revised to include more detailed information on what the public can look for and report.
The Sheriff's Office will be on the front line of education and implementation of drug awareness and enforcement efforts. I have already begun a solid dialogue with those in key positions to aid with the education program phase of my plan. This new approach and perspective will be the most proactive approach one has ever seen in Washington County. As a proactive leader, I took the initiative to attend the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta in April. I met with state and national leaders to learn more about this issue and to gather resource information to help Washington County.
Washington County has a great wealth of resources and programs to help many people. We can see success in re-entry programs like the one the Attorney General's office established about 3 years ago. As Sheriff, I would fully support and assist in the existing programs that are in place at the Abingdon Regional Jail Authority. Another program that has proven its success is the Drug Court Program through the Commonwealth Attorney's Office. This stringent accountability program costs the tax payer less money than to house an offender and is designed to give those first-time offenders an opportunity to be a productive citizen in society. By holding a person accountable for their actions, this program has produced a positive impact in many lives, of which I know several of them personally. By working together with the Regional Jail Authority and the Commonwealth Attorney's Office and supporting their efforts, recidivism can be and will be greatly reduced.
Yes. I served 7 years as a Recruiter for the Dept. of State Police. I worked in conjunction with our Personnel Division and the Superintendent's Office to recruit and retain the most qualified women and minority applicants. Being the top recruiter of applicants for the State Police academy classes gave me the foresight to know how to meet personnel needs within an agency. We have outstanding programs and instructors at VHCC in the Administration of Justice Program, Emory & Henry College and the pre-employment program at the Southwest Virginia Law Enforcement Training Academy, just to name a few. By working together with the administration of these organizations and to facilitate and redevelop the recruiting format for the Sheriff's Office, we can fortify the agency through diversity. It is that diversity that only strengthens the Sheriff's Office because of the many talents, skills and professional abilities new trainees bring to the table. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Washington County has a 50.7% female population and a 4.7% minority population. One avenue of recruitment is to maintain the Auxiliary Program. To diversify our volunteer program strengthens our agency and provides experience for those who participate.
In addressing the Interstate 81 Enforcement program, let's first dispel some incorrect information. The deputies who work the I81 project are doing so on their day off to help earn additional money for them and their family. Thus, they do not take away from the regular assigned patrol shift units. Consequentially, they add manpower as they are available to assist with calls should the need arise. The money raised by the program does return to the county. The funds are allocated to supplement SRO (School Resource Officer) positions and to purchase and maintain patrol cars and equipment. This project will generate approximately $800,000 to $1.1 million annually, thus keeping the Sheriff from having to seek money from the Board of Supervisors. Should that amount of money not be in the budget, the Board would have to draw from other revenue sources or increase taxes. Neither of which is financially practical.
The number of enforcement efforts I would implement would be based on available manpower and resources available. There are varied times when these projects are more effective during the year; however, it is well known that I81 has always been a major source of drug traffic transportation.
All Sheriffs in Virginia are required by the Code of Virginia to determine the residency status of individuals arrested and brought to jail. During the booking process, fingerprints are automatically transmitted to a state database to which all local, state and national law enforcement agencies, including ICE, have access. The Code does not imply that a non-US citizen will be "questioned or asked for papers" for simply reporting crimes by law enforcement. It is only when a person is arrested for violating the law that the status is checked. The relationship with other government agencies should be one of mutual respect and cooperation in the conducting of any investigation or enforcement of law.
The safety and security of our students or staff is of the utmost importance. Yet, the SRO program is also a great example of community policing. The development of the relationships our SROs have with students and staff lead to stronger community ties and more open communication. By identifying the needs of students and staff, the SRO, and the Sheriff’s Office as a whole, can readily aid in meeting those needs. SROs maintain a level of professionalism and compassion with the ability to communicate on all levels. Key qualities also include a high level of integrity, discretion and the demeanor to work with children and adults.
Having been trained in Level I and II Active Shooter training, I fully support further tactical training for all deputies to include close encounter and hand-to-hand skill set to address physical threats. Also, all deputies should be trained in Trauma Informed Care including ways to understand the prevalence of domestic violence, sexual violence or other types of traumas people face and the signs associated with those traumas. By being a well trained deputy, both physically and mentally, the response to any threat or issue will be met with confidence.
Northwood High School
20 plus years of Law Enforcement and providing effective community policing.
Married with one son and two grandchildren.
Prior to coming to Washington County Sheriff’s Office in December 2003, I was a Patrol Supervisor for the Saltville Police Department. I worked in the public school system as a D.A.R.E. Instructor and supervised the scheduling of classes held in the schools and community events. After transitioning to Washington County Sheriff’s Office in 2003, I worked in Patrol Division as a Deputy Sheriff. I was then promoted to the rank of First Sergeant where I supervised daily traffic enforcement activities and monitored and tracked budget finances and expenditures. I was later promoted to the rank of Administrative Lieutenant where I assisted in the agency’s accreditation process, supervised the communications division and fleet management. I was then assigned to Lieutenant of the Patrol Division where I supervised all deputies in the patrol division. My supervision in this area consisted of all field operations and working with deputies, providing hands on supervision. My time as a Patrol Lieutenant helped ensure that the communities within the county were getting the services needed with adequate patrol coverage available for incoming citizen calls.
Due to the increase of Law Enforcement agencies dealing with severe mental health disorders and crisis across the Nation and within our County, the Sheriff’s Office took an aggressive approach to this issue to better serve our citizens facing crisis. In 2016, the Sheriff’s Office partnered with Highlands Community Services to establish a program dealing with these extremely important issues. Both HCS and WCSO sent 12 individuals to attend the Core CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Training held at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies and Community Service Workers received training on how to identify and work with citizens in crisis and those suffering from severe mental health disorders.
In 2017, the WCSO and HCS sent 13 individuals to the CIT Train the Trainer Program conducted by the New River Valley CIT and hosted at the WCSO. This program enabled the individuals attending to be able to train agency personnel on how to identify mental health indicators in the field and how to deal with these situations without using force. With hard work and sacrifices, the CIT training has paid off for the citizens of Washington County by the recent opening of the new CITAC (Crisis Intervention Team Assessment Center). This center allows citizens facing crisis the opportunity to receive top care from mental health providers and law enforcement at the assessment center.
Drug addiction is one of the largest problems that our Nation is facing. A very high percentage of crime is connected in some way to illegal narcotics. Currently, methamphetamine is the drug having the most negative impact on Washington County. As your Sheriff, I will dedicate personnel whose primary function will be to investigate crimes involving methamphetamine and other illegal drugs. I believe we must also develop and implement effective treatment options for those suffering from drug addiction.
Methods to be utilized to reduce the use of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs within the County begin with allowing public input and interaction with the Sheriff’s Office on ways communities are being affected in addition to aggressive enforcement of our existing drug laws. There is truly no way to arrest our way out of the existing drug epidemic we face in our County. However, one of the ways to reduce the use of illegal drugs is strict enforcement targeting the individuals transporting and distributing drugs in our County. The Sheriff’s Office has recently partnered in a local Drug Task Force which is comprised of the Washington County VA Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Russell County VA Sheriff’s Office and Lebanon VA Police Department. Eight members of this Task Force will deal directly with the issues facing our communities within Washington County and neighboring jurisdictions where illegal drugs are being brought into our County.
The Regional Jail Authority is responsible for the incarceration, rehabilitation and re-entry programs for inmates. Sheriffs of each county in the Regional Jail Authority are permanent Board members of the Authority along with at large members who have critical input on programs that address inmate re-entry concerns. Since 2005, many programs dealing with reducing recidivism and re-entry have been implemented by the Regional Jail Authority. Each Sheriff is a voting member on the Board and has input on the implementation of these programs.
In partnership with my fellow Authority Board members and Regional Jail Administration, we will implement and utilize programs designed to prepare inmates for community re-entry. I would like to see inmates be afforded the opportunity to be successful in rehabilitation and community re-entry.
Yes. Based upon the small minority population in Washington County, the Sheriff’s Office currently recruits and employs minorities with the Agency. The hurdles facing Law Enforcement recruiting is low wages for our region and the dangers of the profession face in today’s society.
I believe all work organizations should be diverse, especially our Military and Law Enforcement. My expectations are that Washington County will continue to grow and prosper, resulting in an increased diversity throughout the County. As your Sheriff, I will ensure that the Agency continues to diversify employment. This diversification will also include female employees. I will strive to add qualified female and minority candidates to the Sheriff’s Office team. As Sheriff, I will maintain the Agency at a highly professional level that new and veteran officers will want to be a part of. Our Sheriff’s Office will participate in numerous job fairs within the County, local cities and colleges. I will be very involved with recruitment at these events and illustrate to prospective employees everything that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office has to offer.
The results of traffic enforcement and A.C.E. provides a two-fold benefit. The first benefit is that aggressive enforcement helps with the reduction of crime and drugs entering our County. This allows off-duty deputies to combat this problem while leaving deputies who are on their assigned tour of duty to provide law enforcement services to our communities. The second benefit of the program involves revenues collected from violator fines for traffic-related offenses and seizures of money and property from drug trafficking. This revenue helps to provide essential equipment needed for operations within the Sheriff’s Office. Since the inception of the program, the County utilizes the funds collected to purchase Sheriff’s Office vehicles and needed equipment. The Agency purchases up to $400,000.00 in patrol and essential operational vehicles each year from the generated revenue. This does not take into consideration equipment, grant matches and School Resource personnel that are funded through this program. A positive outcome of the traffic enforcement program is that it keeps the tax burden from rising for our citizens to fund those areas of the agency.
Immigration laws are primarily enforced by Federal authorities such as Homeland Security and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agencies. The Sheriff’s Office has a great working relationship with these Federal agencies regarding immigration. The Sheriff’s Office will assist when requested by Federal agencies in immigration matters and refer any issues related to immigration to the proper Federal agency.
As your Sheriff, I will never deny assistance to any other Law Enforcement agency. During my 20+ years of service, I have developed strong working relationships with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
The primary responsibility of a School Resource Officer is to provide a safe and secure environment at each school. Having a SRO at each school allows the deputy to immediately respond to any situation that may arise that could pose harm to the safety of students, faculty or staff. All SRO’s have received basic SRO training and additional advanced training to be utilized if a critical situation should present itself, compromising school safety.
Each SRO in the County’s schools has been handpicked for their positions. These selections are based upon the deputy’s ability to positively interact with students, faculty and staff and the ability to receive advanced training for the control of critical incidents. Each of the County’s Elementary SRO’s are either current in their D.A.R.E. Certification or are in the process of becoming certified. This allows the SRO assigned to the school to remain at that specific school while teaching our youth about Drug Resistance. All SRO’s either have attended or will attend additional advanced training on Active Shooter and Critical Incident Response and will have the equivalent advanced training of our agency’s current SWAT members.