Strasburg High School Star Graduate: Eric Reiley
Eric Reiley has been Police Chief of the Town of Woodstock for a year and a half now. A 1988 Strasburg High graduate, he only recently returned to Shenandoah County after service in the US Army and a distinguished career with the Virginia State Police.
The son of a federal government employee who for many years was assigned to agencies in the United States, Central America, and the Middle East, Eric transferred to many schools during his father’s career. He began his education at Sandy Hook Elementary, left after the first grade, and returned to Strasburg the year that he was a high school senior. That year Eric enjoyed hunting, fishing, and just being out-of-doors as much as possible.
He spent most of his time after school and during the summer months working at the Safeway store in Woodstock, where he would routinely be tasked with closing the store at night. Although he scored high on the SAT and graduated in the top 10% of the Strasburg High School Class of 1988, Eric says that he did not excel in any particular area in high school. “Writing was one skill that seemed to come naturally to me, and it is something I now do very much in my current position.”
Most high school graduates can readily name the teacher or teachers who inspired them to succeed in their studies. Eric doesn’t hesitate to respond to the question of who motivated him in secondary school. “My parents, especially my mother, have been the most influential and inspirational figures in my life. Although I was fortunate to have wonderful teachers, my mother was the individual who provided the most guidance and support in achieving most of my success. She and my father instilled in me the value of a good education and the doors it can open in life. They convinced me to attend college and were supportive in my decision to pursue a career in law enforcement,” Eric said.
After high school, Eric attended James Madison University as a recipient of a US Army Scholarship that covered his expenses. In this program he was required to spend two summers in the Reserve Officer Training Corps Program. “It was during this experience that I gained an appreciation and understanding of ‘service above self.' I believe this was a defining perspective for my professional and personal life since then. In hindsight, my interest in law enforcement as a career was a natural evolution of what I gained from this experience,” he said.
From James Madison University, Eric earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political and Military Science. He then was commissioned as an officer in the US Army, where he served as an infantry officer for the next eight years, both on active duty and in the Army reserve.
“When I was growing up, I always admired police officers and appreciated the work they do to keep our communities safe. I believe my military experience solidified my desire to serve and protect those less fortunate or in need of help. Law enforcement has been called a profession rather than a job. Men and women are not drawn to police work for the pay, hours nor benefits. There is something that calls individuals to this type of work that focuses on service above self,” said the future police chief.
After being discharged from the US Army in 1995, Eric was accepted for employment with the Virginia State Police. His first assignment upon graduation from the Basic Police Academy was in Fairfax County, where he served on the motorcycle unit and the SCUBA team for the State Police.
In 2001, he accepted a promotion to sergeant in Carroll County, located in Southwest Virginia. He also worked as a State Police Sergeant in Arlington County.
As a Virginia State Trooper, Officer Reiley had some harrowing experiences. The most notable was on September 11, 2001, while working in Fairfax County, he responded to the Pentagon alert after the building had been struck by one of the hijacked airplanes.
“It was a very chaotic situation, and I remember trying to focus on what could be done to help with so little information to go on. I remained assigned to the Pentagon for the next three weeks to provide security and to escort the remains of victims who were transported to a forensic laboratory for final identification,” Trooper Reiley noted.
On another occasion he stopped an abduction in progress. After observing a man who appeared to be forcing a woman to get into his vehicle, Trooper Reiley detained the man, at which point the woman ran toward him for protection and recounted that the man had threatened to take her to Florida.
“In 2005 I was promoted to First Sergeant and was assigned to oversee the Springfield Office for the State Police. This was during the height of “the mixing bowl” construction to the I-95/I-395 interchange which required a great deal of coordination and planning with all organizations involved in the project.
Two years later I was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to oversee the Bureau of Criminal Investigations for the State Police in Northern Virginia. In this role I was the supervisor in charge of all general investigations of violent crimes committed in that region of the state,” said Eric.
Then in 2010 came a transfer to the Culpeper Division of the State Police as the uniformed Field Lieutenant. There Eric was in charge of approximately 170 troopers and oversaw the operations of the six State Police Offices that cover this geographic region of the state.
| A singular honor that came to Reiley while he was a Virginia State Police Lieutenant was that of being recognized by President Barack Obama in 2009 in appreciation for the assistance provided by the Virginia State Police for Presidential motorcades in Northern Virginia. Lieutenant Reiley was responsible for ensuring coordination with the Secret Service for all Presidential motorcades on the ground.
In 2012 Eric Reiley left the excitement and demands of the Virginia State Police to return home to Shenandoah County where he wanted to settle with his wife and two young children. “The privilege of serving in my current position has been my honor, culminating 17 years of professional service. I have found the experience of working in this community to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. I have the good fortune to be part of an outstanding organization filled with dedicated professionals who epitomize the credence of ‘service above self.' . Each day I am able to see the benefit of our efforts and the support given back to the police department by the Woodstock community is truly humbling,” Chief Reiley said.
As for his long-term goals for the Woodstock Police Department, Chief Reiley feels that it is his responsibility to provide the officers with the training and resources necessary to serve and protect the town for years to come.
In conjunction with the Town of Woodstock Administration, he is now working toward a set of goals that will enable the Police Department to prepare for the existing law enforcement challenges, as well as those that will develop in the future. “The strategic goal I have set for the next five years is that of attaining accreditation through the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. This would certify that the Woodstock Police Department has adopted the policies and procedures identified as those meeting the most professional standards set for law enforcement agencies in the commonwealth of Virginia,” said the chief.
A program that brings Chief Reiley a great deal of satisfaction is an internship for special needs high school students in the school system. They come to the Police Department once a week to assist with office duties and learn more about careers in law enforcement.
During the 2012-2013 school year, John Albright of Central High School received a citation during a ceremony at the Police Station for his participation in the intern program.
Completing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration is Chief Reiley’s personal goal for the very near future.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Reiley of Strasburg, Chief Reiley lost his mother, Mrs. Susan K. Reiley in 2011. He has been married to Amber Helsley Reiley for almost 10 years. A 1989 graduate of Strasburg High School, his wife holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Virginia Tech.
||(pictured at left) Chief Reiley , Central High School student John Albright, and Lt. Aaron Pattie at an appreciation ceremony last school year.
The Reileys live in Woodstock with their eight year old daughter, Erin, six year old son, Joshua, and Jake, the family dog.