Tony Gabriel has been a police officer for 20 years. Although he is no longer working on the streets of Alexandria, his job is very important. He is responsible for protecting Police Chief David Baker and the others who work in the Alexandria Police Departments administrative offices on Eisenhower Ave.
When Gabriel graduated from T. C. Williams High School in 1979, he didnt know what he wanted to do. Then, Dana Lawhorne took me on a ride-along and Ive never forgotten that, Gabriel said.
He had known Lawhorne from living in Alexandria all of his life and from T. C. where Lawhorne also graduated, three years before Gabriel. Lawhorne was a police officer when he invited Gabriel to ride with him and is now the citys sheriff. Lawhorne is now Alexandrias sheriff.
I guess you could say that Danas responsible for me becoming a police officer, Gabriel said.
He enjoyed his time working on the streets but, four and-a-half years ago, he needed a change. There was an opportunity for me to become a Special Police Officer and come to work here and I really love my job, Gabriel said.
The duties of Special Police Officers are proscribed by the Circuit Court. We carry weapons and can arrest suspects but only if an incident occurs here at headquarters, Gabriel said.
Hes never had to shoot anyone as a Special Police Officer but has administered CPR. Mostly, I deal with the people who come here to see administrative personnel, Gabriel said. You might say that Im the gatekeeper.
He also answers the telephone and reviews police reports that are filed online to make certain that they get to the correct officers for disposition. I like working with the public and I still feel like I am part of the department, he said. Its been a great change for me.