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Mrs. Jessica B. Sears Receives the Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement Award for 2012

August 19, 2012 | VACP

News Image The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police on August 14, 2012 presented Mrs. Jessica B. Sears with the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement. The award was presented at the annual conference of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, held this year at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia. The awards program is a joint effort of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation.

The Award for Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement recognizes an individual’s conspicuous act or achievement in the performance of some duty that results in an exceptional and responsible contribution to law enforcement.  The act or achievement must clearly distinguish the individual from others in the same or like circumstances.

Mrs. Jessica B. Sears is the widow of Colonial Heights Police Lieutenant James “Jamie” Hurst Sears, a 17-year veteran of the Colonial Heights Police Department. Jamie, Jessica’s husband of 17 years and father of their three children, was tragically killed on Aug. 12, 2006. He was on his way home from Colonial Heights Police Headquarters when a high-speed police pursuit from another jurisdiction came through Colonial Heights. As Jamie was driving, the lead officer in the pursuit lost control of his vehicle and struck the front of Jamie’s vehicle. Jamie was killed instantly.

Jessica has turned a tragedy into a learning experience for law enforcement officers by volunteering her efforts and energy to teaching police officers to drive safely in emergency situations.

Working alongside police driving instructors, Jessica recounts the life she had with her husband and describes the events leading up to and following her husband’s death. Jessica introduces Jamie to police officers through a personal narrative and a PowerPoint presentation showing various aspects of Jamie’s life and death. This helps police officers feel a personal and professional bond with Jamie, and puts into perspective the potential consequences of failing to conduct a police pursuit properly.

Several Department of Criminal Justice Service objectives are accomplished during this training. High-speed pursuits change from second to second; the officers involved have to constantly reevaluate the situation, adjusting their thinking and actions accordingly. They cannot get tunnel vision, and they need to know when to back down and call off a pursuit.

Jessica has partnered with the Association of Law Enforcement Emergency Response Trainers (ALERT), an international organization devoted to the development and implementation of ongoing training relative to law enforcement emergency vehicle operation. In August 2010, ALERT invited Jessica to Indiana to produce a video version of her presentation. The video is available to all ALERT members and is currently being used in numerous law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada.

During her presentations, Jessica uses rhetorical questions to create an atmosphere that helps police officers place themselves in different positions of accountability during pursuits. They view exciting audio/video clips of high-speed pursuits, in which proper and improper behavior from law enforcement officers and suspects can be observed. This allows the police officers to experience the adrenaline rush that can occur during a pursuit. In 2011 alone, Jessica conducted 55 presentations for approximately 1,176 officers who serve more than 200 departments across the state of Virginia, a total of 293 hours of volunteer service.

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The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is a statewide organization of federal, state and local police chiefs and law enforcement executives dedicated to improving the professionalism of police agencies in Virginia.  The Association was founded in 1926 and has more than 600 members.  The Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation is a charitable educational foundation created by the VACP to provide training and education programs for law enforcement executives.

PHOTO CAPTION: Chesterfield Police Chief Col. Thierry Dupuis with 2012 VACP/VPCF Award for Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement recipient Mrs. Jessica B. Sears. Chief Dupuis nominated Mrs. Sears for the award and is a member of the VACP Awards Committee.

HIGH-RES PHOTOS: High-resolution images are available online at
http://photos.vachiefs.org/VACP-Conferences/2012-VACP-Annual/2012-08-14-VACP-Awards-Banquet/

PHOTO CREDIT: Erin Schrad, VACP