Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office: Civil Enforcement

In Fairfax County we have to law
enforcement agencies, the police department and the Sheriff’s
Office. We both go through the same Academy. The police takes
primary duties over all criminal actions, and we take primary
duties over all civil actions. The Civil Enforcement section is
actually in charge of civil process documents that come out
of the courthouse. That’s to include tax documents, a
collection of back taxes, as well as eviction procedures,
protective orders, everything along those lines. Our areas are
divided up into geographical areas based off of civil
responses and processes that need to be served. Currently we
have 15 civil areas. Those areas include the Town of Herndon, the
Town of Vienna, Fairfax City, the Town of Clifton, and any
military institution within Fairfax confines. I’ve been in
the Civil enforcement area for seven years. The first thing I
do in the morning is I go to the courthouse and retrieve my
papers for the day. Then, I’ll start doing the routing, kind of
like how the mail would do. Roughly we served around a
hundred thousand documents last year, between 15 to 16 deputies.
It keeps us very busy. Anybody can serve a document who is 15
years old, and not affiliated to the case, but in order to
execute a document you have to have the legal Authority granted
by the code of Virginia. Whether it be taking property, or taking
children from one parent to another, or whether it’s
evicting someone from their home, or something like that,
every document we serve has a propensity for violence. One of
the more interesting things we have to deal with are executing
evictions. The eviction process is a lengthy process. There are
several steps involved, and it does take several months to
actually go from the filing for the writ and actually executing
the eviction. We have to post the document at least 72 hours
prior to us being there, by doing that that makes this time
and place predictable, and that allows for some officer safety
issues. They know what day you’re coming, and they know
what time you’re coming. We do encounter individuals that
refused to leave or don’t want to leave. Unfortunately when the
sheriff shows up to do the eviction, it’s not an option. It
is a court order signed by a judge, so they have to leave
regardless, and whether they go with us, if we have to effect an
arrest to execute the order, then that’s what we’ll do. Going
into different places where you could possibly be ambushed or
anything else, some of the folks that we evict are really good
folks, but they’re just down and out on their luck based on the
economy and things like that. When we show up and residents
don’t have anywhere to go or any family members in the area there
are several government resources that are available to them, and
they are actually on the eviction notice that we give
them. So they can call those numbers in the county will help
them out with finding a place to stay, with finding those
resources, even if it is for a brief amount of time. And a lot
of times the county will even provide financial support. One
of the resources that the Sheriff’s Office works with on a
regular basis, and sometimes daily and weekly, is the
Domestic Violence Action Center. We are basically the enforcement
side of the courts, and they are the coaching side of the Courts.
The Domestic Violence Action Center is a call located service
center. We are at the historic courthouse in Fairfax, and it’s
a partnership with the county and the nonprofit agencies. Our
relationship with the Sheriff’s Office involves cross-training.
These deputies are out there serving the protective orders
and so we inform them of the resources of the county. They
also will come to us and provide training about their process of
serving a protective order, which is extremely helpful. By
understanding there process and understanding the protective
order, we are then able to safety plan for the client. We
all have the urge and desire to help, but we still have a job to
do and we can’t vary or differ from that, but we can provide
assistance. Sometimes this is the first step in getting things
taken care, and allowing other people to start taking
responsibility for their actions. In Fairfax County, with
it being so large, over a million residence, law
enforcement does need all the help it can get from the
community. So we are always out there. You can always come up to
us and ask us questions, ask us anything you need. We always
want to have that interaction between law enforcement and
community. It just builds a stronger bond for everybody.

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