Stafford County First Sergeant Robert J. Grella, Jr. received the 2015 Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award at the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association’s 82nd Annual Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday in Norfolk.
Stafford County Sheriff Charles E. Jett submitted the following recommendation for First Sergeant Grella:
First Sergeant Robert J. Grella, Jr. began his law enforcement career with the Stafford Sheriff’s Office in 2001. Prior to starting his law enforcement career, he worked at the Rappahannock Regional Jail from 1999 to 2001 as a jail officer. His commitment to public service and the community has been evident during his 14 year tenure with the Stafford Sheriff’s Office. First Sergeant Grella exemplifies the core values of the Stafford Sheriff’s Office daily and his work personifies our motto, which is “Committed to Excellence.”
In 2001, First Sergeant Grella’s first assignment with the Sheriff’s Office was within the Patrol Division where he excelled in his aggressive police tactics and meticulous report writing. First Sergeant Grella went above and beyond the average employee on a daily basis to ensure the citizens of Stafford County were protected and well served.
During his tenure in the Patrol Division, First Sergeant Grella received numerous letters of appreciation and commendations from citizens, his supervisors and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In 2005, First Sergeant Grella received the Meritorious Award, which at the time was the second highest honor bestowed by this office, for action taken during his patrol. He and another deputy heard a call for respiratory arrest. First Sergeant Grella was first on the scene and started CPR before rescue units arrived. Once the other deputy arrived, they worked together to establish a heartbeat to the victim. First Sergeant Grella acted with great courage, character and professionalism to give this woman a second chance on life.
In 2008, while still assigned to the Field Operations Division as a patrol deputy, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. During that time, he volunteered to oversee our Bike Patrol Team, along with supervising deputies within the Field Operations Division to further enhance the diversity of his law enforcement career. He sought out, and willingly accepted, the additional duties, training and responsibilities of a supervisor.
In 2010, First Sergeant Grella was assigned to the Special Problems Unit of the Field Operations Division as a supervisor after demonstrating his leadership abilities to supervise a squad and continue to be involved in proactive police work. In 2012, he was promoted to the position of First Sergeant within the Special Problems Unit. His attention to detail and persistence in criminal investigations led him to spearhead working on prostitution and human trafficking cases. Since 2012, numerous reports have been generated and arrests have been made of prostitution within our jurisdiction. Several cases have led to the arrest of those who have been transporting innocent females up and down the east coast, selling them for sex and drugs.
There are three cases that really need to be identified in regards to the work that First Sergeant Grella has done towards helping those people caught up in the human trafficking epidemic. The first occurred in 2013; First Sergeant Grella arrested a female prostitute, which led to the investigation and identification of a suspect. This female had been subjected to years of drug abuse and physical abuse by him. This constant abuse led her to lose partial hearing in one of her ears. She was also being transported to several states and being sold for her services. Through First Sergeant Grella’s relentless efforts in investigating this case and partnering with federal agencies, he was able to apprehend this suspect. He was prosecuted locally and federally and currently is serving a 25 year prison sentence.
The second most notable incident involved a subject who was a gang member who was prostituting juveniles in and around the Pennsylvania area. They brought them to the Stafford area to conduct business. First Sergeant Grella came into contact with a juvenile and through a complete and comprehensive investigation, was able to locate and arrest a suspect. The juvenile that sparked this investigation is back in school working towards his high school diploma.
The third incident involved a local female that had a heroin addiction where a suspect used this addiction to force her into a life of prostitution by supplying her with the drug as long as she conducted sex acts for his financial gain. First Sergeant Grella interviewed and conducted an investigation, which resulted in the suspect being sent to jail and the female was given the opportunity to get clean and fix her life. The female is currently off drugs and living back home with her family, clean and sober. The father of this female wrote a letter to our agency thanking First Sergeant Grella for saving his daughter’s life and praised him on his commitment to help women like his daughter.
The above cases are three of the seventy-two reports generated by First Sergeant Grella that focused on the human trafficking epidemic. Out of these seventy-two reports, multiple local charges have been brought before the courts. However, it is the five cases that have gone to the federal courts that show the level of commitment by First Sergeant Grella to put a stop to the human trafficking problem in our area. Although some of these cases are still pending sentencing, there have been several convictions that have resulted in one life sentence, the previously stated twenty-five year sentence, and an eighteen year sentence to be served in federal prisons. If it was not for the work of First Sergeant Grella, these people would still be victimizing these women and other women and children. In May of 2014, the Sheriff’s Office Meritorious Award was again bestowed upon First Sergeant Robert J. Grella, Jr. for his tireless efforts and accomplishments during this imperiled investigation. This investigation has saved several women from a life of abuse at the hands of sick individuals.
During this past year (2014), First Sergeant Grella and his team initiated 46 investigations of possible human trafficking. This resulted in 30 arrests, many of which were young women who were victims of human trafficking. Of these, two were underage juveniles. Some of the criminal violations that have spawned from the investigations are 10 charges for narcotic violations, one hand gun was recovered and one stolen vehicle was returned to the owner.
First Sergeant Grella created a program to teach hotel staff on the signs of prostitution within their businesses. He currently goes around to all the hotels within our jurisdiction teaching hotel staff, managers and owners. This has led to multiple tips and sparked investigations into the human trafficking problem that is currently being prosecuted at this time. This community based initiative is primarily predicated by First Sergeant Grella’s proactive approach and problem solving skills in addressing the area’s prostitution issues.
I greatly appreciate your consideration for First Sergeant Robert J. Grella, Jr. to be recognized with this prestigious award. He has worked extremely hard throughout his career and 2014 was most certainly a significant year for him and the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Charles E. Jett