West Point Police Department, community mourn loss of Master Police Officer Harlow

aluck@tidewaterreview.com

The West Point Police Department and community are remembering and mourning the loss of Master Police Officer Jason D. Harlow.

Harlow, 47, died unexpectedly in his home Tuesday night, according to West Point Police chief Tim Sawyer.

Harlow served the town and department for almost 20 years and was promoted to Master Police Officer in December, according to Sawyer.

Harlow is survived by his wife of 24 years Susan, his son Brendan, parents Linda and Thomas and brother Kenneth, according to an online obituary by Vincent Funeral Home.

A visitation will take place from noon to 3 p.m. at the Robinson-Olsson Civic Auditorium, with a celebration of life ceremony at 3 p.m., according to the Funeral home website.

The auditorium is at 1040 Thompson Ave.

Memorial donations can be made at any C&F Bank location to the Brendan D. Harlow education fund or to the West Point Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box X, West Point.

Harlow’s police car is parked in memorium outside the West Point Police Department until after the service Sunday; members of the community are welcome to stop by and pay their respects, according to Sawyer.

The police department is at 433 12th St.

Community support

Sawyer and West Point Police Department Investigator Richard Morris, who was Harlow’s frequent shift partner, called him “the face of the West Point Police Department.”

“We have gotten an outpouring of support via social media, telephone calls and walk-ins,” Morris said. “He was professional, but he had a fun side, too, and he knew when to bring out each side.”

Sawyer said he knew that it would be a good day when Harlow was on shift because of his jovial personality.

“He always had a smile on his face,” Sawyer said. “Not only was I Jason’s boss, but he was my friend and we were close.”

A meal train page for meals to be delivered to Harlow’s family and donations to the family are being organized by the Women of West Point Facebook group by Jodie Hence, April Vandegrift and Melissa Anderson.

Vandegrift, who has known Harlow all her life -- they attended the First Baptist Church of West Point together -- said she felt the need to make the page and help the family because he would have done the same for her or anybody else.

“He was the greatest person all around,” Vandegrift said. “This town has lost a huge community asset.”

Vandegrift said she recalls Harlow checking on kids who were sitting alone in the park and giving kids rides to their homes or to McDonald’s.

Harlow was looking forward to retiring in about two years, spending more time with his family and possibly buying land to raise cows, according to Vandegrift.

"That’s all he talked about these past few months,” Vandegrift said. “You either saw him in his uniform or camouflage to go hunting or fishing.”

Hence said that although she never knew Harlow personally, she wanted to do anything she could to support his family and bring the community together.

“That’s what you do as a community,” Hence said. “When someone falls down you do your best to pick them back up. It costs nothing to hold someone’s hand, give them a hug or offer them a listening ear.”

Anderson said after seeing the announcement on Facebook and all of the love and grief the community displayed for Officer Harlow, she and the other members of the group felt led to organize efforts to honor Harlow and his service to the town.

Fellow resident Maria Robins said he lit up the world around him.

“He just made everyone feel like they were his friend,” Robins said. “I hope he knew how much everyone appreciated him for just being who he was.”

Robins added it seemed he was a police officer for “all of the right reasons,” to serve the town and its residents.

Mayor Jim Hudson said Harlow was a devoted and caring police officer.

“But he was an ever better human being and friend to all of us,” Hudson said. “We can never hope to replace him. We are left to respect and remember him and support his family.”

Facebook posts honoring Harlow include the Town of West Point, which reads that “he was truly a class act,” and includes a poem titled “A Hero’s Welcome.”

The West Point Police Department’s Facebook post about the news of Harlow’s passing went viral locally with 790 shares.

Hence will accept donations for Harlow’s family until March 25, contact her at 804-832-8755 to make a donation.

To sign up to take a meal to Harlow’s family visit https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/y27kqm?fbclid=IwAR3tDuCYY1OUWD_mcJUUNFUahg-Z9qexngW1ZU8lVox6bKp2yMe9plUQO2E.

Sawyer said he wants to thank Virginia State Police, King William County Sheriff’s Office, New Kent County Sheriff’s Office and King and Queen County Sheriff’s Office for their support and offer to help with shift coverage.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, aluck@tidewaterreview.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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