After reading comments concerning the officer involved shooting on Birdwood Court ["Code of silence: County clams up when cops open fire," June 14], I feel compelled to share certain information. I have known this officer [William Underwood– editor] for many years and would like to share some pertinent facts as to his competence and good judgment. This young man, a native of Charlottesville, is an exceptional human being whose entire life has been one of service.
At 14 he joined the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department. where he continues to volunteer. Out of high school, he joined the Army where he served in the "Old Guard," the elite 3rd Infantry Regiment that serves Arlington National Cemetery. He also was selected for the security detail for the secretary of defense. His civilian career includes time as a paid fireman, followed by a distinguished career as an Albemarle County police officer.
Being patriotic, and in addition to his police service, he reenlisted in the Army Reserves. This subsequently saw him mobilized for two tours to Iraq, 2004-2005 and 2008-2009. His first tour resulted in valorous service wherein he was wounded and received the Purple Heart. His second tour also saw him risk his life to save fellow soldiers, for which he received the Bronze Star.
Once back in Charlottesville, he continued to serve with distinction with the Albemarle police. He recently received an award for valor from the department when he and others tried to save an innocent life. It is not just his military, fire or police career that defines him. He and his father have given countless hours providing maintenance at the Virginia Elks Summer Camp for Youth and Children. He regularly cleans snow off sidewalks for the elderly in Charlottesville. He and his wife, a school teacher, are signed up this fall to work among the poor children of Guatemala.
This man has proven his "mettle" and judgment under fire and cares for his community. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated men and women like him within our local police departments.
Colonel J. P. Jenkins, U.S. Army (RET)