New chief sworn in

Published 1:42 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The town of Farmville officially has a new police chief.

Circuit Judge Donald C. Blessing, of the 10th Judicial Circuit, swore in A.Q. “Andy” Ellington during a well-attended ceremony at 3 p.m. Thursday in the historic Farmville Train Station on West Third Street.

Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates, who served as master of ceremonies, joked about Ellington being the sixth chief of police since becoming town manager.

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“So, Andy, you know what that means, don’t you? It takes one town manager to make six chiefs,” Spates said, bringing a loud round of laughter from the several hundred people gathered.

Farmville Mayor David Whitus gave the official welcome, speaking of the recently held Vice Presidential Debate and Ellington’s time with the police department.

“Andy has been pretty much a part of (the town’s) history for the last 29 years,” Whitus said. “We are proud of your service in the past and we’re certainly honored that you’ve accepted the position of chief and we look forward to what you’re going to do in the future.”

MARTIN L. CAHN | HERALD Tracey Ellington pins her husband’s chief’s badge on his shirt after his swearing-in Thursday at the historic Farmville Train Station.

Tracey Ellington pins her husband’s chief’s badge on his shirt after his swearing-in Thursday at the historic Farmville Train Station.

Spates then introduced Longwood University Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert Lee Banton, a longtime Ellington friend.

Banton called Ellington “the most outstanding police officer you’ve ever seen.”

He talked about how Ellington is an award-winning police officer, being named in 2005 by the Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office as an outstanding, exceptional investigator.

From there, Banton’s story turned humorous as he explained how Ellington contacted him for help sometime later — help involving Banton’s Washington, D.C., contacts.

“‘I have got this absolute desire, this burning need, to go to the Watergate Hotel,’” Banton said Ellington told him, excited about the site’s history.

Banton made some calls, and arranged for them to stay at the hotel. The two checked in and had a “fantastic” time.

“That night, lo and behold, Andy gets ready for bed and, all of a sudden, something happens to him. I don’t know what, but Andy is running around, he’s picking up the phone, he’s screwing the headpiece off the phone,” Banton said.

He said Ellington continued to frantically go around the room, checking the bathroom’s showerhead and moving chairs around.

“‘I know it’s here!’” Banton said Ellington kept shouting. “‘Andy, what are you looking for?’ And, all of a sudden, he pushes the bed out of the way and underneath the bed, there’s a rug. He pulls that rug back. ‘A-ha! There it is!’ There was a nut, screwed down in the floor. ‘That’s it!’”

Banton said Ellington pulled out a pocket knife with a wrench on it.

“‘I found it! That’s a bug!’” Banton said Ellington declared, and proceeded to remove the nut.

The next morning as the men went to check out, a clerk asked them if they had a good night. Banton told the clerk they had. The clerk asked Banton if he was sure they had a good night. Banton asked him if something was wrong.

“‘Just below you is the Honeymoon Suite and about midnight, a chandelier fell on that bed,’” Banton said the clerk told him. “Absolutely fantastic investigator!”

On a more serious note, Banton talked about how Farmville’s 24 police officers take care of not just the 8,300 people living here, including 3,500 students during the school year, but another 10,000-14,000 people who shop and work in Farmville from surrounding communities on any given day. He characterized Ellington as “great” at situational analysis in being prepared to help all those people.

Banton also told a story about a tragic situation he and Ellington worked together on some years ago where Ellington asked Banton to help take care of the family involved while he took care of his men.

“(That) impressed me and showed me, not necessarily much about his training … but he showed me what’s in his heart,” Banton said. “What I saw, what I witnessed, what I can testify to, is an absolutely unbelievable talent at multitasking. Putting that heart out there for that family and for his men. I saw the compassion of one of the most wonderful law enforcement officers you’ve ever seen. I don’t know that you can train for that.”

Banton ended his speech by declaring Ellington the “best prepared chief” in Farmville’s history.

Shortly thereafter, Judge Blessing swore Ellington in as chief, after which Tracey Ellington pinned her husband’s chief’s badge on his shirt.