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LAWMEN IN THE LIMELIGHT

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Top, South Boston Police Chief Jim Binner, who received a resolution and plaque of appreciation Monday from South Boston Town Council, is shown with his son Jamey and wife Jeni (left) and SBPD Captain Dennis Barker to his right. In the back row are Police Sgt. Tim VanAernem, Lt. Randy Redd, Cpl. Lee Perkins, newly hired Police Chief Bryan Young, and Sgt. Mitchell Bowen. Above, In Halifax, from left, Officer of the Year Malcolm Bowen, Police Chief Stuart Comer and Jamal Florence, Chief’s Award.
SoVaNow.com / January 14, 2021
Local law enforcement officers were in the limelight as town councils in South Boston and Halifax recognized retiring and standout members of the two town police departments this week.

Monday night at their January meeting, South Boston Town Council presented a retirement resolution in honor of outgoing Police Chief James “Jim” Binner, who is stepping down after 27 years with the town department, the last 12 years as chief. Binner’s successor, Virginia Conservation Police acting chief Bryan Young, will begin his new job Jan. 21.

South Boston Council also recognized longtime SBPD First Sgt. Tim VanAearnem, who is retiring after 22 years with the department. Both Binner and VanAearnem received the gift of a shadow box with their badge, name tag, police patches, honorary pins, and an American flag.

Members of Council praised both officers, with Binner drawing praise for his diligence and attentiveness to the public and council members alike.

“Over his career, Chief Binner has earned the respect of those he served with and those he has been entrusted to serve and protect,” said Town Manager Tom Raab, adding that South Boston will truly miss Binner’s contributions to the community.

“Twenty-seven years is a long time to wear the uniform, you’ve seen some good times and bad times protecting the citizens. You will be missed,” said Mayor Ed Owens.

Council member Bill Snead, recounting the many times he has turned to Binner with various requests, thanked the retiring chief for listening to and acting on the public’s concerns. “Thank you for your leadership, it has been great every time I called — you answered the phone. You represent the honesty and integrity and really have a heart for people."

The retirement resolution by Town Council notes that Binner began his career in August 1993, rising through the ranks to become police chief in 2008. Over the years, Binner spearheaded a number of improvements to the department, expanded community policing, increased training opportunities, and fostered a strong working relationship with the county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

The resolution further noted Binner has served for over a decade on the Southside Virginia Alcohol Safety Action program.

A similar resolution honoring the service of VanAearnem after 22 years with the SBPD described his background and career achievements. VanAearnem, a native New Yorker, rose steadily through the ranks to become the first sergeant in June 2020. VanAearnem is the founder of Choices 180 Program for local at-risk youth and is known for his communication and leadership skills, making him an invaluable officer, supervisor, mentor, and friend, the resolution noted.

After the recognition of retiring officers Monday night at South Boston Town Council, it was the Town of Halifax’s turn to praise standout police at the Tuesday night meeting of Halifax Town Council.

Due to the pandemic, the Halifax police department could not conduct its annual dinner and awards ceremony in December. So instead, Police Chief Stuart Comer made the awards presentations during the monthly January meeting of Halifax Town Council.

Officer Malcolm Bowen earned the Officer of the Year honor, which is chosen by fellow officers. “I stay out of the decision,” said Comer.

Bowen was recognized for issuing over 270 citations, conducting 80 arrests, and received the MADD DUI award three years in a row for his outstanding commitment and critical role in combating drunk driving, helping fight drugged driving, supporting DWI victims, and preventing underage drinking.

Halifax Sgt. Jamal Florence received the Chief’s Award.

“Sergeant Florence just completed Defense Tactical Instructor training. I haven’t been through it and don’t want to go through it,” said Comer, who described the training as tough and strenuous. “Sgt. Florence is the leading Field Training Officer for the department and serves as the grant project manager on three grants. Plus Sgt. Florence manages the department in my absence,” said Comer.

Comer expressed appreciation to the staff of the police department for staying strong in 2020 during a global pandemic. “The patrol work they have done never wavered and they were able to serve all citizens.”



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