Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale
She’s just what a small-town police officer should be. Corporal Heather Fadely, an officer since 2005 and with the Middleburg Police Department since 2011, is friendly and kind, while remaining tough and vigilant.
As she winds through the town’s neighborhoods on the lookout for anything that might call for her attention, she waves to those who wave to her, as many do, stops to check on a resident to see if all is well in the neighborhood, and even asks the whereabouts of his dog, Murphy. She knows them both by name.
Two men wielding brush brooms scrub the sidewalk on Main Street in front of King Street Oyster Bar. The soapy water is running down the sidewalk and into the road. Heather lowers the passenger window and asks, “What happened here?”
Just a case of smelly garbage that leaked out of the cans. Heather thanks the men for cleaning it up and drives on.
Down Route 50, a turn south, and she pulls into the old Sharon Cemetery off Federal Street. Unsurprisingly, it’s dead in there—no crimes, no trouble, just one of the most beautiful, peaceful cemeteries and beloved by Heather. A respite of sorts.
She drives to another part of town to check on a stop sign that was knocked down overnight. Exercising her detective skills, she deduces it was a truck with dual wheels that made a short turn and then backed into the stop sign and road sign and clipped the building.
Thankfully, a Middleburg police officer’s job is without much crime or danger. The job is mostly that of ambassador where the officer’s mere presence instills peace and safety in the village. Heather’s days are mostly made up of talking to shopkeepers and residents, and writing parking and traffic tickets.
But, there is the occasional robbery or murder, too. When Heather was training a new officer, on his very first day with the department, they received a call. The caller said a female in his home killed herself. The next day the man committed suicide. It was found to be a homicide and suicide. Heather didn’t know how to explain that this normally doesn’t happen in Middleburg—the officer stayed with the department and is still there.
Heather explains that Virginia has recently passed a law against smoking and driving with children in the car, and she is on the lookout for that infraction. Another of her pet peeves is seeing a child in the front seat or bouncing around unrestrained—behaviors she wouldn’t mind writing a ticket for.
As an only child, Heather grew up in Mount Jackson and makes her home in Winchester, but she frequently heads to Loudoun for events and activities in her free time. She loves to travel “to anyplace warm in the winter” and thinks cruises are a great way to travel and find destinations she would want to come back to and spend more time.
Heather’s police boyfriend, who shares her 12-hour shift, two days off schedule and love of travel introduced her to “Trip on a Tank,” whereby the couple gets in the car, fills the gas tank and takes off for a two-day mini vacation.
There’s something about the Town of Middleburg that reminds Heather of home and her travels around the nearby countryside.
“I love the small town feel of Middleburg. I get to make more personal connections—not only with the residents but the business owners and visitors, too,” says Heather. “Everyone in the community calls us by our first names…and I like that.”
So, when you see Heather making her rounds on foot or in her car, say hello. Chances are Heather knows you by name as well. ML