Careers of Culpeper police officers celebrated

Two-year-old Harley McKnight couldn’t stay away from her Daddy’s arms.
The curly-haired little girl in a pink and yellow sundress ran back and forth between her mother Sarah in the audience to her father, Richard McKnight, who was waiting for the ceremony to begin.
McKnight was one of three Town of Culpeper police officers being honored along with Norma McGuckin and Alfred Cooper at a promotional ceremony held Monday.

It was a formal affair. Three officers were being honored for their promotions and members of the community from a variety of arenas were on hand to celebrate their success.
It was a friendly affair with fellow officers exchanging back slaps and handshakes, wives hugging husbands and children moving easily among policemen and elected officials, cameras and video equipment.
It was a family affair.

Mayor Chip Coleman, who was leaving later in the day for his niece’s wedding in Colorado, was restless for homemade strawberry, lemon meringue and chocolate pies along with homemade salads, chicken and pulled pork sandwiches.
As local dignitaries took their seats and families and friends poised cameras, Rev. Sandy Martin stepped to the podium for the invocation. thanking the officers for keeping the community safe and earning their stripes the ‘hard way.’

Coleman was honored to be there to personally congratulate each officer.
“This is one of the most important things in my job that I do,” he said.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dale Durrer, who will become Judge Durrer on July 1, urged them to “make a positive impact on those you supervise” and to “protect the quality of life that exists in Culpeper.”
Chief Chris Jenkins reminded the three of the “higher level of responsibility” that they had.
“I’ve seen you grow as officers and adults and I commend each of you for your public service. I’m glad that you are part of our team.”
Capt. Ricky Pinkshaw led them through the Oath of Honor and presented them with their new badges.
“This is a symbol of public trust,” said Pinkshaw reminding them of the impact they would have on other officers and the community.

About the officers
Lt. Alfred Cooper

Alfred Cooper, a New England native, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in February 2013.

In 1993, he graduated from Lee Academy in Lee Maine. He also attended Toccoa Falls College in Georgia for three years.
Cooper had held several private sector jobs in Georgia and Virginia before moving his family to Culpeper in 2002.
At the age of 29, Cooper began his law enforcement career with the Culpeper Police Department in 2003. He graduated from the Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy in November, 2003.
In, 2005, he attended a two-week motorcycle training course and became certified to operate a police motorcycle. He was assigned to the Special Operations Division, riding one of the department’s Harley Davidson motorcycles.
In 2008, Cooper was named an “operator” on the joint police and sheriff’s Emergency Response Team and also name to the department’s Accident Reconstruction Team – certified in both automobile and motorcycle accident reconstruction.
In April, 2011, Cooper was promoted to sergeant, assigned to day shift under Lt. Tommy Clark. This year, when Clark retired, Cooper was promoted.
Cooper serves as the department’s Wellness and Law-Fit coordinator. He received his Law-Fit instructor following graduation from the Cooper Institute Law Enforcement Fitness Leadership class in August, 2012.
He is also a certified general and firearms instructor. He also attended a first-line supervisor’s school. He recently attended a one-week Institute for Leadership in Changing Times. He and his wife Valiri have been married for 18 years. They have two sons, A.J., 10 and Nathan, 8.

Sgt. Norma McGuckin

Norma McGuckin, born in Mexico and immigrating to the United States in 1991, was promoted to the rank of sergeant in February 2013.
She attended Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. In 1988, she moved to Culpeper. In 2001, McGuckin began employment with the Culpeper Police Department as Traffic Control Officer.

Also in 2001, she attained her GED.
In 2006, she became a U.S. Citizen and graduated from the Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy. Following several months of field training, McGuckin was assigned to day shift uniform patrol.
In 2010, was assigned to the newly-formed Street Crimes Unit, comprised of member of the police department and Culpeper Sheriff’s Office. The SCU concentrates on areas in the town and county where crime issues or drug problems have surfaced.
McGuckin, who speaks fluent Spanish, serves as an interpreter for police, sheriff’s office and state police when called upon. She holds certifications as a Law-Fit Instructor, gang specialist, Bike Patrol Officer and first-line supervisor. She is also a member of the Virginia Gangs Investigators Association.
She is married to James. She has a 17-year-old son, Christopher and two step-sons, Jonathan and Ryan.

Richard McKnight, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was appointed a Master Police Officer in December, 2012.
In 2000, he graduated from South Lakes High School in Reston, Va. He began taking criminal justice courses at Frostburg State University, in Frostburg Md., later attaining an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Virginia Community College in 2004.

In May, 2006, McKnight joined the Culpeper Police Department and graduated from the Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy. Following his field training, McKnight was assigned to Uniform Patrol.
In 2009, McKnight became a field training officer as well as a gang specialist and member of the Virginia Gangs Investigators Association.
In 2010, McKnight was assigned as one of the original Street Crimes Unit officers, where he remains assigned. With narcotics and gang activity being the primary focus of the Street Crimes Unit, McKnight has successfully prosecuted gang and drug cases in both federal and state courts.
In addition to his assignment in the SCU, McKnight became a member of the accident reconstruction team and became certified as a general instructor in 2012. He is married to Sarah and they have a 2-year-old daughter Harley.