Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister Announces Retirement

Purcellville Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister announced she will retire on May 1, 2024, after nearly nine years of service to the Town of Purcellville, and over 42 years of law enforcement service to the Northern Virginia community.
PURCELLVILLE, Va., February 22, 2024 — Purcellville Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister announced she will retire on May 1, 2024, after nearly nine years of service to the Town of Purcellville, and over 42 years of law enforcement service to the Northern Virginia community.
Chief McAlister has led the Purcellville Police Department since June 2015. During that time, she has expanded the Department to include adding two sworn positions: Deputy Chief of Police and Administrative Lieutenant; and one civilian position: Policy & Accreditation Manager/Public Information Specialist. Chief McAlister has overseen such projects as the implementation of a new Records Management System (RMS) for electronic police records, e-citation (electronic) summonses, and body worn cameras.
Chief McAlister also expanded the Purcellville Police Department's community outreach opportunities through the formation of the Books and Badges library partnership program, adoption of the Coffee with a Cop initiative, creation of the Purcellville Bike Safety Rodeo, and growth of the Homework Club by partnering with the local non-profit, BetterALife.
Led by Chief McAlister, the Purcellville Police Department joined the multi-jurisdictional Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to investigate critical incidents involving law enforcement officers within cooperating jurisdictions. In addition, under Chief McAlister's direction, the Department partnered with LAWS Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services (LAWS) by officially joining the Loudoun County Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) to reduce intimate partner violence. 
Additionally, Chief McAlister initiated the Department's update of its general orders, and oversaw the re-accreditation by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC) in 2017 and 2021, with an anticipated fifth re-accreditation in 2025. Chief McAlister also implemented the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program; which since its inception in 2018, volunteers have contributed over 2,500 hours of their time to assist with the Department's mission.
Chief McAlister has also directed the expansion of the Department's social media presence and digital outreach to include a significant increase in its Facebook presence, the creation of its Instagram page, X (formerly Twitter) account, and Nextdoor neighborhood service platform.
Under Chief McAlister's leadership, the Purcellville Police Department's facility was renovated and expanded to add an additional 1,994 square footage. Enhancements included a secure lobby and ADA compliant public restroom, safe and secure interview/interrogation room, a family and victim friendly interview/conference room, a more efficient property and evidence area, hardened armory, additional lockers, an officer wellness area, and an increase in storage for equipment needs for both officers and administrative staff.
In addition to her duties as Chief of Police, Chief McAlister has maintained involvement in the following law enforcement groups to include, but not limited to, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI National Academy Alumni Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Police Executive Research Forum. She also plays an active role as a board member of the Executive Board of Directors for the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy. Chief McAlister holds a Bachelor of Science degree from George Mason University, a Masters Certificate from American University, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy (session 240) and the Police Executive Leadership School. She also served as an instructor for the International Association of Chiefs of Police program, “Leadership in Police Organizations.”
Chief McAlister previously served the Fairfax County Police Department for 35 years before joining the Purcellville Police Department. While at Fairfax, Chief McAlister started as a patrol officer in March of 1982, later holding the position of Criminal Investigation Detective, and rising to patrol supervisor upon her promotion to Sergeant. She also served in the roles of acting Animal Shelter Director, and Assistant Station Commander as a First Lieutenant. In 2007, she was promoted to Captain as the Sully Station Commander. Upon her promotion to the rank of Major, she fulfilled the role of Director of the Fairfax Criminal Justice Academy, later serving as the Commander of the Resource Management Bureau, and then Commander of the Patrol Bureau II.
“Leaving Purcellville is filling me with many mixed emotions,” stated Chief McAlister. “My time here has included many challenges, but also numerous advancements for the Department as a whole. I hope my legacy for Purcellville is that of progress. Progress in terms of professionalism, community involvement, and advances in technology. We have come so far in regards to building relationships within the community, improvements in training, updates to policy and procedures to align with best practices and state requirements, as well as basic technological advancements to allow our officers to more efficiently do their jobs. It has been my privilege to serve alongside the members of the Purcellville Police Department and my fellow Town of Purcellville employees. I am proud of their dedication, hard work, and ability to grow and learn from challenges. They truly have a servants' heart; always giving their best to our team, and our community. I leave knowing our Department members will honorably serve and protect not only our town, but also each other.”
We extend our sincere gratitude to Chief McAlister for her exceptional service to the Purcellville community. Please join us in wishing Chief McAlister all the best in her next endeavors.

The Town of Purcellville, Virginia
“Purcellville-your small Town, where history and progress intersect and people prosper,” is an award-winning town of approximately 10,000 residents located in Loudoun County, approximately 50 miles west of Washington, DC. Having received the 2021 Virginia Municipal League Innovation Award for Environmental Sustainability and in years past, the prestigious Siemens Sustainability Award for Small Communities, Purcellville continues to be honored for innovation and green initiatives.  The Town most recently received the Tree City USA Award for the 16th consecutive year. The Town was reaffirmed as a AAA rated community by S&P Global Ratings, the highest credit rating possible, and was ranked “Safest City” in Virginia in 2020. Once a stop along the W&OD rail line, which has been converted to a multi-use trail from Alexandria, VA to Purcellville, the Town has maintained its historic old-town feel through the restoration and maintenance of its many downtown structures, reflecting the Victorian architecture popular during the early 1900s. Today, Purcellville is the economic hub of western Loudoun County and a popular weekend destination for antiquing, equestrian activities, farmer's markets, wineries, breweries, distilleries and restaurants. More info at


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