By AILA BOYD
After serving for 23 years under two different sheriffs in the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Jeffery Stritesky now says he’s ready to take the reins of leadership and lead the office.
He’s seeking the Republican nomination for the position.
“We have a great sheriff’s office – very good people there,” Stritesky said. “I just want to continue the work Sheriff Sprinkle began.”
In total, Stritesky has 34 years worth of law enforcement experience. After serving a stint as a police officer in Miami, he moved back to Botetourt County and took a job as a road deputy. He eventually became a school resource officer, before being made a lieutenant by Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle in 2010.
“I think I’ve been well groomed for that position of leadership,” Stritesky said of the position of sheriff. “I’m even-keeled. I’m able to look at the big picture.”
Stritesky explained that even at a young age, he wanted to be a police officer. “This is what I was destined to do,” he said. Even when he joined the Army, he kept his goal of serving in law enforcement in mind by insisting that he wanted to become a member of the military police. His wish was ultimately granted.
After leaving the Army, Stritesky met his wife. After marrying, they moved to her hometown of Miami, Fla., where he joined the police force.
Despite his early conviction that law enforcement was the only path for him, Stritesky explained that when he interviewed for the job, he was far from convinced that he would be chosen due to the fact that he was up against 350 other applicants.
“When it was all said and done, I was No. 1 on the list,” Stritesky said. “I was very proud of that.”
Stritesky looks back on his time in Miami as being a “good learning experience.” The main thing he took away from his time there was how to deal with different types of people because of the fact that Miami is a “melting pot of cultures and lifestyles.”
Considering how he was able to serve in as large of an office as he did in Miami and as small of one as the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office, Stritesky cites his adaptability as one of the primary reasons why he feels that he’s ready to assume the role of sheriff.
After evaluating the situation, specifically whether or not he and his wife wanted to raise a family in as big of a city as Miami, they decided to return to his home state of Virginia.
He spent 12 years as a resource officer at Lord Botetourt High School. After being made a lieutenant by Sprinke in 2010, Stritesky assumed leadership over the school resource officer and crime prevention programs.
He explained that when he first became a school resource officer, the concept of having officers in the schools was a new concept.
One of Stritesky’s primary objectives, if elected, will be to increase the number of resource officers placed in county schools.
Currently, full-time resource officers are placed at all of the county’s middle and high schools. Stritesky said he would like to expand the presence of resource officers in the elementary schools. He claims that dividing two officers between all seven elementary schools simply isn’t cutting it.
Ideally, he would like to post a full-time officer at every elementary school.
“What else is there that is more precious than our kids?” Stritesky asked. “To me, there’s nothing else, so why would we not put all of our resources to do that? It’s an insurance policy I hope we’ll never have to rely on, but it’s important.”
Stritesky said that he plans to work with the Board of Supervisors and the state to secure funding for the expansion of the resource officer program.
Stritesky also said that he has plans to increase transparency.
“I will enhance the way we distribute information and data on crime trends to the community,” Stritesky said. “Our office will publish an annual report detailing statistics, budget, accomplishments, recognitions and awards achieved by staff.”
One of the other issues that he said he will work to address is the opiate drug crisis.
“The challenges are numerous; theft, burglary, violent crime, and even death from overdoses,” Stritesky said. “As a community we must take a zero tolerance stance to the sale of illegal narcotics. We must work with our schools and civic groups to help those in need resist, fight, and recover from this addiction that grips so many.”
Stritesky is set to hold a meet and greet at Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders on January 29 from 6 to 8 p.m.