Orange County Insight October 2021

Coffee with a Cop By Michelle Williams, Deputy Clerk / Senior Administrative Assistant

While Teresa Burrus isn ’ t a law enforcement officer, she has plenty of experience when it comes to first responding. With just shy of 29 years of experience as a Communications Officer and Terminal Agency Coordinator - Virginia Criminal Information Network (TAC VCIN), Teresa is hanging up the headset and heading into a relaxing retirement.

Teresa got her feet wet in first responding by volunteering with Orange and Mine Run Volunteer Rescue Squads for 8 years. “ I was looking for something as a career and would spend time at the Sheriff ’ s Office with the communications officers. I think Bill Spence realized I wasn ’ t going anywhere, and he finally hired me, ” recounted Teresa. When you ask someone to recount the most memorable event during their career, you expect to hear a story about how they saved a life. I didn ’ t consider the event she was going to recount. “ I worked the night my son, Jeremy, was killed in a car crash, ” stated Teresa stoically. “ I was the only dispatcher on duty that night. Jim Fenwick was the sergeant on duty when the call came in. As he was leaving, I told him to let me know if it was a blue jeep. ” When I asked her how she was able to perform her job duties knowing that her son had just died, she simply stated, “ Your training just kicks in. ” From dispatching fire and rescue to notifying the funeral home and wrecker service, Teresa did it all that night. She spoke fondly of a few Sheriff ’ s Office employees that helped her get through that evening. Teresa affectionately mentioned “ Kono, ” or as most civilians would know him, Deputy Ken Lickliter. “ Kono drove me home and around to let my family know about Jeremy. ” It was a glaringly obvious answer to me when I asked Teresa what she believed her strengths were when it came to her job. She thought about it for a moment and said, “ instincts and training. ” “ I was [Captain] Jason Smith ’ s FTO (field training officer). He ’ d call to ask me how to do something and I never led him wrong. ”

I couldn ’ t interview Teresa without asking what the funniest thing is she had ever seen while working. “ The DUI arrests are the best thing to watch, ” she said with a big smile on her face. “ They admit to everything! Then when those cuffs go on, they start crying and say, ‘ I didn ’ t say that ’ or ‘ I only had one drink ’.” When asked what advice she would give to people who want to become a communications officer or are new to the career, Teresa remarked, “ Stick with it. It ’ s not easy and it will break your heart. Your coworkers will become a new family and be sure to talk to them about what ’ s going on and what upsets you. ” Teresa Burrus, Orange County wishes you as much success in your retirement that you have had with this organization. You deserve much happiness and relaxation in your retirement! Thank you for your years of dedicated service.

Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff ’ s Office, 2015

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