Homegrown: 31-year police veteran and Waynesboro High grad runs for sheriff of River City

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Jessie Shaver
Jessie Shaver

WAYNESBORO — Jessie Shaver graduated Waynesboro High School in 1982.

He joined the Waynesboro Police Department in 1990.

When Shaver heard that his good friend, Waynesboro Sheriff Joe Harris Jr., was retiring after more than 30 years, he started to think about his candidacy for the position.

“I felt that I had a good experience to take over,” Shaver said.

Although conservative, Shaver said he is running as an Independent in the race because he did not find out about Harris’s retirement until February and his 125 signatures to run as a Republican for sheriff were due in March.

“I think one of the big things is transparency,” Shaver said of an issue or concern facing Waynesboro at this time.

While Waynesboro Police Department officers have carried body cameras and in-car cameras for many years, Shaver said the sheriff’s office deputies do not have cameras, and he would like to change that if elected sheriff.

The sheriff and his deputies are responsible for the court system and transporting prisoners.

“I think that an officer needs a camera not only to protect the citizens but to protect ourselves,” Shaver said.

However, the sheriff and his deputies do not need in-car cameras. Shaver said that when transporting prisoners, they can use their body cameras.

Shaver said he hopes to get grant funding to purchase body cameras if he is elected.

Otherwise, Shaver said, if elected, he plans to “continue running the sheriff’s department the way it is.”

Deputies can respond to assist Waynesboro Police Department officers as necessary.

Shaver and his wife, Sharon, were high school sweethearts. They married the year after he graduated high school. Their three adult children live in the Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro area.

The couple has a 15-year-old foster child, and seven grandchildren.

Since 2000, Shaver has served as a K-9 officer.

He first two dogs were German Shepherds.

His current dog, Barkley, is a Springer Spaniel who “loves to sniff drugs.”

Last year, Barkley and Shaver received an award from the state of Virginia for confiscating $1 million in illegal narcotics.

According to Shaver, Barkley is the only dog in Virginia who has the recognition of $3.1 million in seizures of illegal narcotics.

“The sheriff’s department and the police department are side by side in the city of Waynesboro,” Shaver said.

He is familiar with the court system, including the judges and the commonwealth’s attorney.

“I think I bring all the skills sets to the table,” Shaver said of his candidacy for sheriff of the River City.

Shaver is also a certified instructor with the state for general courses, a firearms instructor and completed the School of Advanced Hostage Negotiations.

“I’ve got quite a great skills set,” he said.

Shaver said that because he was not able to obtain signatures in time to run as a Republican, he is hoping the Waynesboro Republican Committee will choose to endorse him as candidate for sheriff of Waynesboro.

“The only thing I can hope for is that the Republicans will back me,” he said.


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