Staunton police officer wants to bring ethics back to sheriff’s station

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Chris Hartless Staunton
Chris Hartless. Photo submitted.

STAUNTON – The men and women in blue uniforms have garnered negative press attention over the past two years, and Staunton town cops are feeling the sting as are cops across the United States.

“We are not regarded with as much esteem as we once were as a profession on a national scale,” said Chris Hartless, 47, who grew up in Queen City.

Hartless, a member of the Staunton Police Department, introduces himself for the Staunton Sheriff.

He said law enforcement agencies should work to become more involved in their communities and repair their reputations in the eyes of their residents.

“I just think times are tough for everyone,” Hartless said, and the police have to work to make sure their jobs are done ethically.

Hartless and his wife Renee just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary at the end of August. They have two adult daughters and an adult son.

After graduating from Robert E. Lee High School, Hartless served in the US Navy and returned to Staunton in late 1995. He joined the Staunton Police Department in 1998 and served for 19 years.

He joined the Staunton City Sheriff’s Office in 2018 and was deputy chief until his resignation a year ago.

This is Hartless’s first candidacy for political office.

If elected, his two main goals are the training of office staff and increased cooperation between agencies, particularly with the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office and the Staunton Police Department.

“My intentions are to give the men and women in the office the best training possible,” said Hartless, so the staff can make the right decisions for the residents of Staunton.

The Staunton Sheriff’s Office shares jurisdiction with the county in a combined courthouse.

“I’m going to refocus on our responsibilities,” Hartless said.

The Staunton Police Department is responsible for criminal situations and traffic violations, while the Staunton Sheriff’s Office is responsible for courthouse, civil service and prisoner transport security.

He said his decision to run for sheriff came from working with the current sheriff for over two years.

“I saw some things and saw some things that I didn’t agree professionally or ethically,” Hartless said.

For example, Hartless said interagency cooperation was lacking with the current sheriff, who Hartless said attempted to remove the Staunton City police chief from his post and, when he stood for re-election, the Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith has removed his post. position.

In another example, Hartless said he was driving a vehicle with the current sheriff in the passenger seat chasing a suspect on a busy Augusta County road when the sheriff pulled out his service gun and was about to shoot the tires. of the suspect’s vehicle to end the pursuit.

“Not only was it dangerous for everyone involved – in my opinion, it was unwarranted,” Hartless said.

Hartless said the community support for his candidacy for the Staunton sheriff’s job has been overwhelming “and I am very touched.”

He encouraged everyone to come out and vote in November.

“I think change starts with individual voting,” he said.

He said he assured residents who vote for him that he “will choose professionalism over politics any day of the week.”

“I think I have the education, the experience and know how to run the office in a more competent and ethical manner,” Hartless said.

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