The Salem Police Officer of the Year for 2019 earned the respect of his peers and the department’s annual honor for being in the right place at the right time on two separate occasions.
Josh Webb, a Senior Police Officer from Roanoke County, used his instincts, training and keen powers of observation to locate suspects and make multiple arrests. His calm response to each instance inspired his fellow officers in Salem to select him for the 2019 honor.
“A big part of being a good patrol officer is having a sense of calmness,” he says. “A lot of what we do is surrounded by negativity, so if we can keep things as calm as possible and shine a positive light on things, I think it really helps.”
Webb joined the Salem Police Department in November of 2015. Before coming to Salem, he worked for the Western Virginia Regional Jail and the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office. Webb also volunteered his time with Roanoke County Fire and Rescue.
“I have seen members of the general public treat officers worse than the inmates treated me when I worked in the jail,” he says. “This is a difference in society and having a calm and positive attitude can diffuse some of this behavior and have a positive effect on the people we are dealing with.”
The specific incidents that earned Webb the nomination for this honor both involved vehicles. One car was linked to a hit-and-run case in a neighboring jurisdiction and the other was involved in a rash of “shots-fired” incidents in a residential neighborhood.
In March on last year, Webb’s calculated approach to a residence in the middle of the night allowed him to catch a subject climbing through a window into the home. The subject was soon arrested for burglary and also charged with felony hit-and-run.
The second incident occurred in July when Webb spotted a vehicle that had been linked to suspicious activity involving a firearm. Webb’s ability to locate the vehicle and the subsequent traffic-stop and investigation led to the collection of valuable evidence and suspect information that helped resolve a case.
“Perfect situations happen sometimes, because each of these instances was determined by just a few seconds,” says Webb. “I would like to think that God has something to do with it, in that I was put in those places for a reason and that he shined a light on what was happening to draw my eye to it.”
In 2009, Webb graduated from Roanoke Valley Christian, where he played baseball, basketball, soccer and ran track for the Eagles. The school didn’t have a football team, but that didn’t stop him from representing Salem and playing a couple of years for the Roanoke Rampage in the National Public Safety Football League.
“Senior Officer Webb is a very humble and quiet person, who not only strives to do well at work, but someone who also works hard at being a good family man,” says Mike Crawley, Salem Police Chief. “He really understands the concept of being a ‘guardian of the city’ and he has done a great job of demonstrating our philosophy of polite and professional policing initiatives.”
Webb has been instrumental in training new officers for the patrol division in his role a Field-Training Officer.
“Identifying and improving any weakness in a positive way is critical to becoming a good officer,” says Webb. “You want to help them grow and also let them know the mentality you need to have in order to make a positive impact on society.”
Webb and his wife, who were classmates at Roanoke Valley Christian, have a one-year-old daughter. His family will get to see him accept his 2019 Officer of the Year honor at the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards breakfast on January 28 at Roanoke College.