Joey Kierson, 33 

Community Policing Officer in Chesterfield County

click to enlarge joey_kierson2.jpg

Ash Daniel

One night when Joey Kierson was in college, he went to a nearby grocery store, expecting that he'd return to his dorm and prepare for another normal day. But when he exited the store, he noticed two groups fighting. Soon, bullets began to fly. He called the police and pointed them to a stopped vehicle, where he identified one of the shooters. "At that moment I knew I was going to be a cop," he says.

Today, as a senior officer for Chesterfield County, Kierson knows it's a tough era to be in law enforcement. That's why he's been on the campus of Virginia State University, building trust and relationships through open forums with students from around the country. The Chesterfield Police Experience Program also allows students from the university to visit the academy, see how training works and understand the complex situations an officer can experience.

"I enjoy working with the community and showing police officers in a different light," Kierson says. "I have always approached policing in a personal way, meaning I want my community to know who I am and feel comfortable around me. My work area simply knows me as Joey, just like my friends and family."

Indeed, Kierson has become a surrogate dad in his area. He's provided new clothes, last-minute rides and a source of stability for a local teenager he met during an investigation. By collaborating with a local high school, a full support system has been established for the teen. "If there is a child in the community that goes without, my family and I will be stepping up to help them," Kierson says.

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