August Officer of the Month
Lieutenant Robert Netherland, III
Henrico County Police Department Henrico, Virginia
Lt. Robert Netherland, III has been with the Henrico County, Virginia Police since 1994. Lt Netherland received the MADD law enforcement award several times back in the late 90’s. This was at the beginning of his career when it was not uncommon for him to average one DUI/DUID arrest per night while working evening and midnight shifts. The most he was able to arrest in one shift was three, knowing that each arrest takes up to about three hours.
It was as a member of the Henrico Police Crash Team that Lt. Netherland became deeply involved in impaired driving crash investigations. In time, Henrico County dedicated a prosecutor to those cases. They credit Lt. Netherland’s expertise in the fields of crash investigation and impaired driving to securing convictions.
Once on the Crash Team, most of the investigations dealt with making arrests after blood draws due to someone being involved in a crash. This led to Lt. Netherland becoming the “go to” officer for advice on search warrants and understanding the law. On many occasions, he has received a phone call in the middle of the night to just answer a question for an officer.
Lt. Netherland was assigned to the Virginia General Assembly for several years and wrote the “Drinking while Driving” law which is an extra charge on top of a DUI arrest if an open container is found in the vehicle. He was also responsible for writing grants back in 1998 for the Crash Team. Those grants have now grown into to over $300,000 per year, some of which support checkpoints and saturation patrols. Due to his extensive knowledge of the topic, Lt. Netherland has served as a trainer for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and has presented at numerous conferences; most recently at the 2018 Virginia Highway Safety Summit and the Mid-Atlantic DUI Conference.
Almost as importantly as his career highlights, we recognize Lt. Netherland for his connection to and support of MADD Virginia. His sister Denise was killed by a drunk driver in 1980 after which his mom Shirley served as the President of MADD in Central Virginia for 6 years. His father was a beloved Virginia State Trooper.
Lt. Netherland is absolutely dedicated and unwavering in his support of MADD Virginia. He has led and/or participated in his department’s raising of many thousands of dollars through their participation in the Richmond area MADD Walk each year. This year the Henrico Police held a Brunswick stew sale which raised over $6,000 toward the Walk.
Lt. Netherland and his officers also encourage and embrace the participation of MADD volunteers in checkpoints. He invites them to share their victim stories at the briefings. There is a dedicated group of victim volunteers who participate in checkpoints, all of whom adore Lt. Netherland and his officers.
Lt. Netherland and his department also participate in the MADD Candlelight Vigil which is held in Henrico each year. In 2019 there was bad weather and the event was forced to be held indoors which resulted in reduced participation by even victims. Demonstrating their continued support, there ended up being more Henrico Police officers in attendance than victims and family members.
MADD National is proud to recognize Lt. Robert Netherland, III as the August 2020 Officer of the Month. We thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the citizens of Henrico County, the State of Virginia and MADD. Thank you to MADD Virginia’s Cristi Cousins for her nomination of Lt. Netherland for this recognition.