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Letter to the editor for Dec. 21, 2021

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Police chief, lieutenant honored

In these challenging times when communities across the country are experiencing dramatic increases in violent crime, the City of Lynchburg is not immune to this crisis. Fortunately, the Lynchburg Police Department, its command staff, officers and civilian employees are committed to ensuring the safety of all citizens. Service and leadership are essential for an effective police department.

In recognition of his professional leadership the Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW) Virginia Piedmont Chapter awarded Chief Ryan M. Zuidema its Law & Order Exceptional Service Award.

Since his appointment as Chief, he successfully led the department through the riots, civil unrest, and police reform. This was a delicate balancing act of ensuring our community knew we would not tolerate criminal behavior while at the same time respecting and protecting citizens' Constitutional rights.

Under his leadership, the Department received its eighth consecutive accreditation award from the prestigious International Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). The Lynchburg Police Department was required to comply with 364 procedural standards in order to earn accreditation, ensuring that it meets the highest standards of modern law enforcement.

Also recognized for his service and leadership was Lieutenant Matthew R. Gillespie. He was awarded the MOWW Law & Order Outstanding Performance Award.

Since joining the department, Lieutenant Gillespie partnered with our community in numerous roles supervising a variety of functions in his current position, including leading police training, personnel and recruiting units. He also brings his experience as a U.S Marine Corps combat veteran who fought in Desert Shield and Desert Storm to the Department.

The law enforcement profession is currently in an employment crisis. Lieutenant Gillespie’s dedication ensures we select the most qualified officers who are highly trained and prepared to safely and effectively address today’s often life-threatening challenges.

The Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW) Virginia Piedmont Chapter salutes Chief Ryan Zuidema, Lieutenant Matt Gillespie, and the men and women of the Lynchburg Police Department, both sworn and civilian, for the vital work they do each day.

CHARLES W. BENNETT

MOWW Virginia Piedmont Chapter

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