Incumbent Sheriff Glendell Hill said there are three ways he can leave his post: Die in office, lose the upcoming election or retire.
The first two options he hopes never happen, Hill said. The latter option, well, he’s not ready to do just yet, he added.
He's running for a third term as sheriff so he can continue serving Prince William County, Manassas Park and Manassas.
Hill, who is running as a Republican, has no opponents in the primary election next month, but former sheriff’s deputy Mike Messier has announced he intends to run against Hill as an independent in November.
Even though the election is a political process, he’s always a law enforcement officer first, Hill said.
“I enjoy what I do,” he said. “I enjoy serving the 450,000 people in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.”
Hill said his law enforcement career began in 1969 when he became the first black police officer in the then-Town of Manassas. Manassas wasn’t incorporated as a city until the 1970s.
Despite the turmoil of those times, Hill said he was never afraid, or never thought he would have trouble doing his job because of what people may have thought about his race.
“Believe it or not, that never entered my mind, I had confidence in myself,” he said. “I was a typical young person and I never thought of something like that. I never thought the color of my skin would be a problem.”
During his time on the force, supervisors, fellow officers and the community always supported him, he said.
After 12 years as a Manassas police officer he began work at the regional jail of Prince William County where he eventually became jail supervisor in 1992.
Soon, he started to consider running for sheriff.
“It was a challenge, I believe that running for office (initially) is a challenge. No one knows your name … it can certainly be intimidating,” he said. “I thought about it, then forgot about it and then I thought about it again. It was a while before I shared it with friends and family, but I shared it with people who are close to me professionally.”
He defeated the incumbent Sheriff E. Lee Stoffregen III and became the first black sheriff.
Four years later, he reclaimed his post by defeating Messier in the primaries and an independent candidate in the general election.
Over the years, Hill said he has been criticized or not supported by many.
“You’re criticized by folks who don’t know you; they say things that are not true and they say things that are true," he said.
He’s been criticized because he lives in a gated community in Gainesville, Hill said.
Others refuse to support him because of his party affiliation, he said. Some just refuse to lend support and they don’t even have a reason, Hill said.
But he’s up to running for a third term because he is proud of what he’s done so far in the office, Hill said.
In the last eight years the sheriff’s office has been re-accredited through the Virginia Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission.
His deputies are trained in how to enforce federal law under the Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) program.
His entire team of senior staffers have graduated from a 12-week leadership program through North Carolina State University, he said.
The sheriff’s office is responsible for the civil process, Hill said. Deputy sheriffs serve civil papers, such as eviction notices, transport mental health patients, serve warrants and support area police officers.
Hill said he is proud of the job his 88 deputies do each day. In his past two terms, he’s sought to up their skills by conducting practice sessions for emergencies such as fires or someone having a gun in one of the courtrooms at the law enforcement complex in Old Town Manassas, Hill said.
He is also exploring the possibility of outdoor security at the facility he added.
His deputies conduct day-to-day courtroom security.
Hill said his deputies are responsible for overseeing the safety of some 800,000 people who enter the law complex each year for court appearances and other matters.
The check-in process at the complex is similar to airport security, Hill said.
“No liquids are allowed that can be thrown on someone to harm them,” he said. “ … Believe it or not, some people have drugs on them when they enter the courthouse. Guns are not allowed in the courthouse, but last week a woman had a gun on her. She said she forgot it was in there.”
Domestic cases and other legal matters can get quite emotional, so deputies sometimes escort people to their vehicles after hearings and hold others inside to avoid conflicts, he said.
When asked what he would do if the Nov. 4 election doesn’t go as he’s planned, the 64-year-old simply said he’s not ready to leave office.
“I still have the desire to get up in the morning, I enjoy what I do,” he said. “One day I’ll know when to step aside, but that day hasn’t come yet.”
Hill is married to Carolyn Hill, an educator in Manassas. The two have three children and nine grandchildren.