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Spring 2008

LUPD Blue on Patrol: 24/7

A Midnight Ride with Sergeant Roger Sudesberry

Dennis Sercombe Editor

The evening began on the Lankford Mall watching the bands U-Turn and Cartel crank up the volume as Spring Weekend got underway.

Thanks to Charles Lowe, former Chief of the Longwood University Department of Public Safety, I was allowed to accompany one of his veteran officers, Sergeant Roger Sudesberry, on a "tour" of the campus, off-campus residential complexes, and local hot spots. Lucky for me, I got to ride in the brand new Dodge Charger police cruiser, complete with "Hemi" under the hood.

LU Police badge As we began our tour, I learned that Roger is a 20-year veteran of the LU Police Department and he is extremely well-liked and well-known among our students. Throughout the night, Roger would slow the Charger down and say hello to students, asking them if they needed any help and just having friendly conversation. "I understand them and they know I’m just trying to help them. That makes me feel good." You can tell that the students love Roger and they have a lot of respect for him. Naturally, the new Charger drew more attention than the usual police vehicle ..."nice ride, Roger – go gettem!"

The role of a campus police officer is similar but different from other law enforcement agencies. As Roger said, "These students are young, they are still learning. We try to guide them in the right direction – it’s more about relationships than anything else – we  are all from the same community."

But make no mistake – this is real police work with all the inherent dangers and challenges faced by any law enforcement officer. Roger and his colleagues are deputized and have full arrest power. In fact, LUPD has 15 sworn police officers and operations are conducted 24/7, 365 days a year. Their authority extends far beyond the campus and they can and do protect the entire community. They carry weapons and work collaboratively with the Farmville Police Department, Prince Edward Sheriff’s Department, Hampden-Sydney College Police, the Virginia State Police and other agencies. It is a mutually beneficial relationship in which they can call on each other when needed, especially when a rapid response is needed.

I thought that since this was the first real night of Spring Break, that we would be in for a night of non-stop action. Much to my surprise, the night was quite calm and peaceful. We "hit the blues" only once when Roger proceeded to Longwood Avenue to back up fellow officer John Johnson who had stopped a driver for possible DUI. "We try to back each other up as much as we can – you never know what to expect or what’s going to happen." Luckily for this driver, he passed the breathalyzer test, but just to be on the safe side, Officer Johnson called a friend to serve as a DD (designated driver) – another example of how these officers are truly serving and protecting.

The only other incident on our tour was a response to Longwood Avenue near the National Guard Armory where a driver had hit the supporting guy wires on a utility pole and the wires were across the street. The Farmville Police Department and Farmville Volunteer Fire Department responded and confirmed that the wires were non-electrical and cleaned the mess up.

My midnight ride was very interesting and informative. I was impressed with the professional work of our Longwood University Police Department and how they truly care about our students.