Seeing real-life officers bust the bad guys on “COPS” was what their dad, Scott, did every day as a state trooper, and the brothers couldn’t wait to join him in uniform.
“I always thought it looked really cool,” said Matthew, 26, who became a Virginia State Policeman three years ago. “The fast cars. The sirens. I always had my mind set on law enforcement.”
Jacob, who’s 23 and recently graduated from the State Police Academy, added: “I’ve never really thought of anything else.”
As the brothers talked, their mother, Cindy Burgett, went to the cabinet of their Fredericksburg home where she keeps construction paper artwork and cards made by her three children. (The couple’s oldest, Sarah, is 28, and followed her mother into the medical field. Cindy is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, and Sarah is an X-ray nurse.)
Cindy retrieved a Father’s Day card, undated, that Jacob had done, probably in elementary school. The cover showed his father’s uniform from the neck to the black attachments on his belt. There was a dark blue tie, his dad’s badge and name tag.
Inside, Jacob had scrawled the lines from the theme song of his favorite show: “Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”
Then, he signed the card on the last page. Next to the drawing of a police car with two antennas, he wrote “Happy Father’s Day!” in oversize letters and included a postscript that really spoke to where his head — and heart — were.
It read: “PS: you rock dude!”
Their father may have wanted to say the same to his boys when they graduated from Basic Trooper Session. Participants can have a relative or friend, also in law enforcement, hand them their diplomas, or they can get them from the Virginia State Police superintendent.
The person Matthew and Jacob Burgett chose was 1st Sgt. Scott Burgett, who beamed with pride.
“This is fantastic,” he said at Jacob’s graduation.
Like the ceremony, the training classes — all 1,340 hours spread out over 29 weeks and 98 courses — are held at state police headquarters in North Chesterfield near Richmond.
Each member of the Burgett family attended Jacob’s graduation. Matthew is three years older, but when he and his brother stood next to each other in uniform, with the same buzz cut and “cover” on their heads, they looked like twins.
All the Burgetts have blue eyes, but the boys’ are the color of a glacier, like their mother’s.
It’s not unusual to have fathers and sons, dads and daughters and husbands and wives on the force, said Virginia State Police Capt. Todd Taylor. Matt is under his command, and Taylor often jokingly tells Scott — who he’s known more than 25 years — that he’s the second-best trooper in the family. He teases that he’ll have to change it to third best now that Jacob has joined.
Then, on a serious note, he said the Burgetts are “thinking men” who reason their way through problems.
“I’m just proud of them all,” he said. “They’re good folks, a good family. I would like to have a whole bunch more of them.”
Scott and Cindy Burgett are both 54, and to them, it doesn’t seem that long ago when he started his police career. He graduated from the academy 29 years ago after earning a criminal justice degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Their sons followed the same path. The only difference was, Scott was a few years older when he joined the force and already was a dad.
And, Scott didn’t have anyone to inspire him to do police work. His father was in the Air Force.
“Honestly, it sounds so hokey, but I wanted to do something I felt was worthwhile, relevant, something important,” the elder Burgett said. “I wanted to help people.”
He figured he’d eventually go into federal work, but he loved the state police so much, he made it his career.
He’s worked as a road trooper and special agent, done background work and assisted in investigations. He’s looked into general crimes, arson and bombs, been assigned to Smithfield, Richmond and Fairfax and now works in drug investigation out of the Culpeper office.
Matthew, who is assigned to Orange County, already has tapped into his father’s experience. The two talk over a crash-scene investigation, as the younger asks the older his take of things. “I’ll say, ‘This is what I’m thinking, what does this sound like to you?’ ” Matthew said.
Two days after Jacob graduated and started work in Caroline County, police officers nationwide held their 30th annual candlelight vigil at the National Mall to honor those killed in the line of duty. Matthew was there, part of the Virginia State Police Honor Guard, as three new names from the state force were etched in stone.
Col. Gary Settle, superintendent of the state police, probably didn’t need to remind those at Jacob’s graduation that the new troopers — like the multitude of other uniformed officers in the audience — face peril on the streets.
“What consumes my thoughts daily and keeps me up at night is your safety,” Settle said to the graduates. “We’ve been reminded too many times in recent years of the dangers that exist for public safety officials.”
Settle shared the story from the movie, “American Sniper,” about the three types of people in the world: wolves, sheep and sheepdogs. The latter are warriors, Settle said, working to fend off the wolves and protect the sheep.
He said it’s the trooper’s job to identify the bad guys and protect the good ones. But when policemen are swayed by the way people look, dress or talk or their backgrounds or skin color, “then we become the wolves and have failed our mission as a Virginia State Police trooper.”
Scott and Cindy Burgett think about the current tensions, too, and what the situation will be like for their sons.
She says the whole family is calm and level-headed to the point of being downright boring. She’s confident her husband and two sons won’t have any difficulty exercising their considerable discipline and self-control.
He says the same, even though the climate is probably the worst the tenured trooper has ever seen.
“As a father, I’m proud of them for being brave enough to do it,” he said. “But I also expect them to follow their training, do what they know is right and stay safe.”
The Virginian-Pilot reports 30-year-old Joseph Merlino III was convicted Friday of first-degree murder for the death of 35-year-old Ellie Tran. She died after being attacked and injected with the poison on Valentine’s Day 2017.
Merlino denied in court Friday that he researched lethal doses of cyanide and ordered a $68 stainless steel syringe online. He said other people had access to the computer used to conduct the searches.
He also denied writing coded letters meant to get his mother and new girlfriend to fabricate evidence for him. He said they were coded because prison staff previously had stolen his mail or failed to send it.
News outlets quote the National Weather Service as estimating one to five inches (two to 12 centimeters) of rain fell across the region Thursday. News outlets report the Henrico County Division of Fire had rescued people from eight vehicles stranded in water by Friday night. And Henrico Police Lt. Chris Garrett says at least one person has been sent to the hospital after a tree fell on several houses.
The Virginia Department of Transportation says the rain closed nearly 100 streets throughout central Virginia. The Richmond International Airport also shuttered for several hours. About four inches (10 centimeters) of rain fell at the airport between 4 and 5 a.m. Friday, the highest hourly total there in 70 years.
Lexington, VA (AP) – White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged Saturday in a tweet that she was booted from a Virginia restaurant Friday night because she works for President Donald Trump.
Sanders said she was told by the owner of The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, that she had to “leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left.”
Sanders said the event said far more about the owner of the restaurant than it did about her.
“I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” Sanders said in the tweet from her official account, which generated 22,000 replies in about an hour.
Sanders’ treatment at the restaurant created a social media commotion with people on both sides weighing in to provide their critique, including her father, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
“Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate,'” Huckabee said, quickly generating 2,000 replies in about 30 minutes. “And appetizers are ‘small plates for small minds.'”
On Yelp, a reviewer of the restaurant from Los Angeles wrote: “Don’t eat here if you’re a Republican, wearing a MAGA hat or a patriot.”
“12/10 would recommend. Bonus: this place is run by management who stuck up for their beliefs and who are true Americans. THANK YOU!!!!” said a reviewer from Commerce City, Colorado.
No one answered the phone at the restaurant.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for immigrant children who say they were cuffed and beaten by staff inside a Virginia detention facility said Friday they plan to press forward with a federal civil-rights lawsuit, even though two of the teens involved in the case are no longer in the United States.
Hannah M. Lieberman said two of the unidentified teens who described severe abuse inside the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center recently left the country following the resolution of their immigration cases. A third teen remains in federal custody, but has been transferred to another detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia.
Shenandoah executive director Timothy J. Smith said Friday that an internal investigation had concluded that the incidents described in the lawsuit filed against his facility last year are unfounded and “can be readily dispelled.” Smith says his staff will fully cooperate with state and federal investigations.
Lieberman said her legal team at the Washington Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs will consult with the federal district court judge overseeing the case about how to proceed.
“These kids show a remarkable consistency in their stories, and they have no connection to one another,” Lieberman said. “We believe our kids.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday ordered two state agencies to open probes into the facility, hours after The Associated Press first published first-person accounts of severe abuse described by children as young as 14. The teens said they were handcuffed, shackled and beaten by guards. They also described being stripped of their clothes and locked in solitary confinement for days at a time.
The incidents described in sworn statements from six Latino teens are alleged to have occurred between 2015 and 2018, under both the Obama and Trump administrations.
Though incarcerated in a facility similar to a prison, the children detained on administrative immigration charges have not been convicted of any crime.
Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a list of questions about the case Friday to the head of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the care of immigrant children held in federal custody.
The senators asked whether regulators had received any past complaints involving the facility located near Staunton, Virginia. The Democrats also want to know whether there is a system in place to discipline staff members who abuse children in federal custody.
Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Refugee Resettlement office, have refused to discuss when they first learned of the abuse allegations at the Shenandoah center and whether any action has been taken to determine the veracity of those claims.
“HHS takes seriously the responsibly of ensuring the care of unaccompanied minors by our grantees,” said Ryan Murphy, a spokesman for the agency, referring to facilities that receive federal money to house immigrant children.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The Shenandoah lockup is one of only three juvenile detention facilities in the United States with federal contracts to provide “secure placement” for immigrant children who had problems at less-restrictive housing.
The center was built by a coalition of seven nearby towns and counties to lock up local kids charged with serious crimes. Since 2007, about half the 58 beds are occupied by male and female immigrants between the ages of 12 and 17 facing deportation proceedings or awaiting rulings on asylum claims. It received $4.2 million in federal funds last year to house the immigrant children.
On average, 92 immigrant children each year cycle through Shenandoah, most of them from Mexico and Central America.
As part of a federal class-action lawsuit, young immigrants held at the Shenandoah facility said in sworn statements said they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells. Children as young as 14 also said the guards there stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch says the Thursday ruling may help in-state retailers compete against online rivals. Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne says the ruling could generate an additional $300 million a year for the state. But Layne says Virginia’s general fund won’t see that revenue until the General Assembly adopts legislation on how to apply the sales tax.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision overturns a 1992 court ruling that limited state tax authority to sales by businesses physically in the state. The newspaper reports that retailers say the ruling is long overdue.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Virginia’s two Democratic senators asked the Trump administration Friday for answers about operations at a juvenile detention facility in the state where immigrant children said they were bound, beaten and isolated in solitary confinement. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent to the head of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement questions about the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. The Associated Press reported Thursday that six Latino teens had made sworn statements detailing severe abuse they said they endured between 2015 and 2018, under both the Obama and Trump administrations. In court filings, lawyers for the detention facility have denied all allegations of physical abuse. The senators asked whether regulators had received any past complaints involving the facility located near Staunton, Virginia. The Democrats also want to know whether there is a system in place to discipline staff members who abuse children in federal custody.
Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Refugee Resettlement office, have refused to provide any comment this week about when they first learned of the abuse allegations and whether any action has been taken to determine the veracity of those claims. Hours after AP’s initial reporting Thursday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, also a Democrat, directed the state’s secretary of public safety and homeland security and the Department of Juvenile Justice to report back to him “to ensure the safety of every child being held there.”
The Shenandoah lockup is one of only three juvenile detention facilities in the United States with federal contracts to provide “secure placement” for immigrant children who had problems at less-restrictive housing. The center was built by a coalition of seven nearby towns and counties to lock up local kids charged with serious crimes. Since 2007, about half the 58 beds are occupied by male and female immigrants between the ages of 12 and 17 facing deportation proceedings or awaiting rulings on asylum claims. It received $4.2 million in federal funds last year to house the immigrant children.
On average, 92 immigrant children each year cycle through Shenandoah, most of them from Mexico and Central America. Though incarcerated in a facility similar to a prison, the children detained on administrative immigration charges have not yet been convicted of any crime. As part of a federal class-action lawsuit, young immigrants held at the Shenandoah facility said in sworn statements said they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells. Children as young as 14 also said the guards there stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Thirty-nine new troopers are set to join the ranks of the Virginia State Police. The Commonwealth’s 128th generation of Virginia State Troopers will graduate Friday. The 39 new troopers will be presented with diplomas during commencement exercises at the State Police Training Academy in Chesterfield County. State police said in a news release that the troopers have received more than 300 hours of classroom and field instruction in subjects including defensive tactics, crime scene investigation, firearms and crisis management. Upon graduation, the new troopers will report to their assignments across the state beginning July 5 for their final phase of training. State police say each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired with a field training officer.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A sniper serving life in prison for terrorizing the Washington, D.C., region as a teenager must get new sentencing hearings in Virginia, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The 3-0 decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denies an appeal by prosecutors who said they already complied with the requirements of the U.S. Supreme Court, which found in a series of rulings after Malvo was sentenced that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. Lee Boyd Malvo was 17 when he and his mentor, John Allen Muhammad, fatally shot 10 people they targeted at random in Virginia, Maryland and Washington in 2002Muhammad was sentenced to death and executed in Virginia in 2009. Malvo received multiple life-without-parole sentences in Virginia and Maryland. The 4th Circuit found Malvo’s Virginia sentences must be vacated, upholding the decision of a lower court judge. Thursday’s ruling applies only to Malvo’s four life sentences in Virginia. A Maryland judge denied new sentencing hearings last year for Malvo in those cases.
The appeals panel found that the Supreme Court’s new rules for sentencing juveniles, which must be applied retroactively , were not satisfied when Malvo was sentenced years earlier. Malvo’s resentencing judge must now determine whether his crimes show he’s permanently incorrigible, and thus can be sentenced to life without parole; or that they reflect “the transient immaturity of youth,” and merit a lesser sentence. “To be clear, the crimes committed by Malvo and John Muhammad were the most heinous, random acts of premeditated violence conceivable, destroying lives and families and terrorizing the entire Washington, D.C. metropolitan area for over six weeks, instilling mortal fear daily in the citizens of that community,” Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote. “But Malvo was 17 years old when he committed the murders, and he now has the retroactive benefit of new constitutional rules that treat juveniles differently for sentencing. ” Niemeyer added: “We make this ruling not with any satisfaction but to sustain the law. As for Malvo, who knows but God how he will bear the future.”
The brother of one of Malvo’s victims said even the remote possibility of Malvo being back on the street someday is unsettling.“Is it fair that he gets out when there certainly was a permanent sentence for his victims — not just one victim, but so many victims?” said Bob Meyers, whose brother, Dean, was fatally shot while fueling his car at a gas station in northern Virginia. Malvo’s attorney, Craig Cooley, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
During oral arguments January, Deputy Solicitor General Matthew McGuire argued that the trial judge’s actions conformed with subsequent Supreme Court rulings because he had the discretion to reduce the jury’s recommendation of life without parole, but chose not to do so. Cooley countered that the judge’s actions did not conform, because he gave jurors only two choices: life without parole or the death penalty.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring had pursued this appeal. His spokeswoman Charlotte Gomer said Thursday that he is considering all options, which could include asking for a full 4th Circuit rehearing, or asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. “We are going to review the decision closely and decide how best to proceed in a way that ensures this convicted mass murderer faces justice for his heinous crimes,” Gomer said.
Malvo’s attorneys, meanwhile, are appealing a judge’s denial of new sentencing hearings in Maryland.
UPDATE: WASHINGTON (AP) – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered state officials to investigate claims made by immigrant teens of severe physical abuse at a
juvenile detention facility. Northam announced the probe in a tweet on Thursday, hours after The Associated Press reported on a half-dozen sworn statements from Latino teens held at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. Youths as young as 14 say they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells. Detainees also say the guards stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads. The governor, a Democrat, said the allegations are disturbing and ordered the state’s secretary of public safety and homeland security to report back to him about conditions inside the facility.The center’s lawyers deny all abuse allegations.
PREVIOUS — WASHINGTON (AP) – Immigrant children as young as 14 housed at a juvenile detention center in Virginia say they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells.The abuse claims against the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, Virginia, are detailed in federal court filings that include a half-dozen sworn statements from Latino teens jailed there for months or years. Multiple detainees say the guards stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads. A former child-development specialist who worked there tells The Associated Press she saw kids with bruises and broken bones. She’s not authorized to publicly discuss the issue and spoke on condition of anonymity. The center’s lawyers deny all abuse allegations.