Ex-Capitol Police Officer Will Seek Sheriff Post

Posted February 15, 2005 at 3:53pm

After spending 30 years on the Capitol Police force, retired Officer Bill Cleveland announced Tuesday that he is moving on to his next challenge — becoming sheriff of Alexandria, Va.

“It’s a great opportunity to run for the sheriff of the city of Alexandria,” he said in an interview. “I love serving.”

Current Alexandria Sheriff James Dunning said in a statement that he would not run again for the position. He was first elected in 1985.

Elections for sheriff will be held Nov. 8. Currently, there is one other candidate, Detective Dana Lawhorne, a 47-year-old Del Ray native who has been on the Alexandria Police force for 26 years.

During Cleveland’s three decades with the Capitol Police, he spent seven and a half years in the communications section and 13 years in the physical security section. There, he had a hand in some of the changes that were made, such as putting gates around the Capitol and the idea to build a Capitol Visitor Center, he said.

In addition to his law enforcement career, Cleveland also served on the Alexandria City Council from 1988 until 2003. He served twice as vice mayor, from 1991 to 1994 under Patsy Ticer and then again from 2000 to 2003 under Kerry Donley. He made an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2003, an election that he lost to then-City Councilman William Euille. Currently, Cleveland serves on the Virginia Board of Corrections and the Commission on Parole Abolition and Sentencing Reform.

Cleveland said his main goal if elected is “to make Alexandria a much safer community than it is today.” He has already established the city’s first Neighborhood Watch program and has worked with The Untouchables mentoring program.

“I know that Alexandria is at ground zero when it comes to the war on terrorism, so I will make sure it is my job to make sure the jail is safe and secure to ward off terrorism,” he said. A large part of his concern stems from the fact that the Alexandria City Jail is currently home to terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui, along with “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, which puts homeland security high up on his agenda. The increase of security at the jail is one of Cleveland’s top priorities if elected, along with modernizing the facilities and improving departmental communications.

Sean Spicer, communications director of the House Budget Committee, has no doubts that Cleveland is the best candidate for the job.

“I don’t think anyone could even stack up to him on credentials,” he said, referring to Cleveland’s combination of elective office experience, law enforcement experience and community involvement. “At the end of the day, he has a personality that people enjoy. He’s friendly, he knows what’s going on in the community, and people just like being around him. That’s the kind of person that transcends political party issues.”