As localities across the country continue to celebrate Black History Month, the Salem Police Department has written a new chapter of its own this February. Earlier this month, Scott Haston was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, making him the first black officer to attain this position in the history of the department.
“Many of my former supervisors and mentors have inspired me to always do my best and to make changes for the better, so I am honored to carry on their legacy,” says Haston. “I can only hope that I will leave a positive influence on all those who I come into contact with, whether they are current law enforcement officers, citizens or those who are contemplating entering the career field.”
When he graduated from Lord Botetourt High School in 1992, Haston had no idea he would establish a successful career in law enforcement that now spans more than 20 years. It wasn’t until he ended his enlistment in the United States Air Force ended that he became truly interested in this line of work.
“I had determined that I wanted to pursue a career in a field that involved discipline, structure, leadership and community involvement,” he says. “After returning to the Roanoke area and speaking with family members, I was intrigued by a job opening at the time with the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office.”
After three years in Roanoke, Haston joined the Salem Police Department in 2001 as a patrol officer. As he has worked his way through the ranks the past two decades, he has gained valuable experience in the Patrol, Services and Detective divisions. He is a graduate of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science Academy in Richmond and he has been certified through Circuit Court as an expert witness in cellular phone forensics.
“The time I spent in the Detective division is when I truly learned to be humble and have empathy and compassion for people who were both fortunate and not so fortunate,” he says. “Good people make bad decisions and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by leaders who taught me to look beyond an individual’s current situation and focus on the end goal. That advice helped me to establish a good working relationship with all citizens in our community.”
Haston has an associate degree in Administration of Justice from Virginia Western Community College and he has served as an instructor at the Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy. In addition, he was selected by the Secret Service to attend the Mobile Forensics school at the National Computer Forensic Institute in Alabama.
“I have always been able to count on Scott in the various positions he’s held within the department and I am very proud of Lieutenant Haston’s professional accomplishments,” says Mike Crawley, Salem Police Chief. “He has worked very hard to achieve this level of success that does not come overnight. He is the embodiment of persistence, hard work and patience, all traits that are becoming rare in our current society.”
Coincidentally, Crawley was named Salem's first African-American Police Chief on the first day of Black History Month in 2016.