Pinksaw tabbed as Emporiaâ??s Police Chief

In less than a week, Culpeper Police Maj. Ricky Pinksaw will turn in his equipment and walk out the door of police headquarters for the last time.

For years, Culpeper Police Maj. Ricky Pinksaw has been working toward one goal.

â??My goal has always been to become a police chief,â? said Pinksaw.

Last week, Emporia City Manager Brian Thrower named him police chief of a city seven miles north of the North Carolina line along I-95.

Pinksaw, who has served the Culpeper Police Department for 25 years, will don a new uniform with eagle insignia collar devices Jan. 1 as he takes over a department of about 27 sworn officers and two civilians. Emporia is roughly the same size in land area as Culpeper but with a population of about 6,000.

The hiring announcement meant leaving the Culpeper community behind as his career moved forward.

â??Itâ??s the hardest thing I have ever had to do,â? said Pinksaw in an interview in his office last week, about telling friends and department members he was leaving. â??I tried to push off telling people as long as I could.â?
The new chief looks forward to the challenges ahead.

Thrower said Pinksawâ??s qualifications â??stood outâ? among the finalists interviewed for the position. He was invited for a second lunch interview.

Pinksaw asked the caller how many candidates were getting a second interview and was told that he was the only one being called.

While driving to Emporia for the second interview, the veteran officer wasnâ??t sure what to expect.

â??It was somewhat of a realization I may get the job,â? Pinksaw recalled.

The lunch meeting with Thrower and others went well. The group drove around the city and talked. City officials quickly made the decision to offer Pinksaw the job. With the current police chief retiring the end of December, Thrower wanted a new chief on board Jan. 1

â??He, overall, had the best qualifications and experience,â? said Thrower in a telephone interview.

The city manager said Pinksawâ??s training, experience and having served with a small department for 25 years made him a â??good fitâ? for the job.

â??Heâ??s got the total package,â? said Thrower.

Excellent credentials

Pinksaw has served in patrol, worked narcotics investigations and progressed through the ranks as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain and major.

Pinksaw has also served as an adjunct professor at Germmana Community College, teaching criminal justice classes. Some of his students are now employed in law enforcement, several on the Culpeper department.

â??I enjoyed teaching,â? said Pinksaw. â??I enjoyed the classroom interaction.â?

His experience also includes being a supervisor in criminal investigations, serving as the departmentâ??s internal affairs investigator for 13 years and being the departmentâ??s original accreditation manager.

Pinksaw said he thought having shepherded Culpeper through both state and later international CALEA accreditation were strong selling points.

Thrower agreed, saying Emporia is not an accredited agency.

The total package also includes a bachelorâ??s degree in criminal justice from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania and a masterâ??s degree in criminal justice earned in 1997 from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Pinksaw said that pursuing his education became a goal after his first evaluation as a Culpeper police officer. The town manager and police chief asked if he planned to continue his education.

â??It kind of energized me to get my education,â? he said.

For about seven years, he attended VCU part-time in pursuit of his masterâ??s, driving one day a week to Richmond, while juggling his police shift work schedule.

Pinksaw said the townâ??s educational reimbursement program also provided an attractive incentive.

â??The town has been more than generous,â? said Pinksaw. â??The town recognizes the benefit of employees continuing their education.â?

But Pinksaw, who was hired as a patrol officer in 1989, didnâ??t stop with a masterâ??s.

In October 2012, Pinksaw graduated from the prestigious 10-week FBI National Academy, focusing on leadership courses.

â??Itâ??s probably the best training I have ever had,â? said Pinksaw. â??I took (four) graduate courses while I was there.â?

He said the national academy experience covers three phases â?? education, physical fitness and social networking with other law enforcement professionals.

â??The intersecting of the three make the national academy what it is,â? said the Western Pennsylvania native.

Career decisions

For the past several years, Pinksaw had been applying for police chief positions. He interviewed several times and didnâ??t get a call at others. Although disappointed at times, he didnâ??t give up and kept applying any time an opening that appealed to him cropped up.

â??When the time is right, it will happen,â? said Pinksaw, who completed 25 years of service with the police department this year.

He has spent more than half his adult life wearing a Culpeper police uniform.

How did a college graduate from Pennsylvania with no ties to Virginia land in Culpeper?

Fresh out of college with a criminal justice degree, Pinksaw took a job with Jamesway and underwent training to become a loss prevention manager. He was told that he would be assigned to a store in Pennsylvania, but at the last minute he was assigned to the Culpeper store.

After being hired as a police officer in 1989, following a six-month hiring process and completion basic police training, Pinksaw was assigned to a field training officer.

â??Chris Jenkins was my first and last field training officer,â? said Pinksaw about his basic uniform patrol training. â??I learned more from him than any of the othersâ?

Jenkins, Culpeperâ??s current police chief never stopped training Pinksaw so that he could achieve his goal.

Jenkins got Pinksaw involved with the Lions Club and numerous community events. As the departmentâ??s deputy chief, Jenkins took Pinksaw to various conferences to expose him to the issues that face other police leaders in both larger and smaller departments.

â??He will be missed,â? said Jenkins. â??He has served this community well.â?

Jenkins predicts that Pinksaw will be a great police chief in Emporia.

â??He has the opportunity to use all the training he has gotten here,â? said Jenkins, who believes Pinksaw is up to the challenge. â??We are tickled to death for him and proud that he is one of ours.â?

Family pride

Jenkins isnâ??t the only one proud of Pinksaw. Emporiaâ??s new police chiefâ??s wife is equally proud.

â??I am just so excited and proud of him,â? said Missy Pinksaw.

But, like her husband, she is saddened to leave Culpeper.

â??The police department is our family,â? said Missy. â??We will miss our family here.â?

The Pinksaws must now find a place to live and begin the process of selling their Culpeper home.

Pinksaw carries with him some valuable advice offered by Sgt. Roscoe Ford, for whom the current police department is named.

â??You have to treat people the way you want to be treated,â? Pinksaw said Ford always told everyone.

The new chief plans to evaluate his new department and bring several philosophies with him. Besides officer accountability, Pinksaw brings what he calls â??three non-negotiablesâ? regarding officer behavior â?? lying, cheating or stealing.

He plans to build relationships within the community and the police department. He said communication is essential and that honesty breeds trust. He knows that police have to be involved in the community and treat everyone with respect.

â??I am looking forward to him starting,â? said Thrower.

Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at wallybunker@outlook.com</em>