Search & Rescue

The Albemarle County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Division is a Virginia State Certified unit that provides on-call teams of personnel trained to assist or lead local and state search and rescue missions. These volunteers use horses, all terrain vehicles, canines and ground field teams to search for missing persons. The Search and Rescue Division also provides Project Lifesaver as a service to our community. Project Lifesaver is a state-of-the-art technology used to locate lost or wandering persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other related disorders. Approximately 70% of all people with Alzheimer's will at some point wander or become lost. Research indicates that 57% of those who wander or become lost are not returned safely. Clients who are part of the Project Lifesaver program wear a personalized bracelet that emits a tracking signal. When caregivers notify the Albemarle County Sheriff's Office that the person is missing, the search and rescue team responds to the wanderer's area and starts searching with the mobile locater tracking system. Search times can be reduced from hours and days to minutes. Project Lifesaver recovery times will average less than 30 minutes. If you know someone who would benefit from enrolling in Project Lifesaver, please contact us for additional information.

In 2006, the Search and Rescue Division successfully searched for and saved three lives. Also in 2006, Search and Rescue members searched for and located a suspect sought by the police department. The Search and Rescue Division is composed of deputies and civilian volunteers. They are first responders that are called in to conduct search and rescue missions in both urban and rural areas.

What does it take? How do I get involved?
  • Patrol members are volunteers.
  • Members must be 18 years of age or older and have no felony convictions.
  • There are no special skills or equipment needed to apply. However, all Members must complete training program requirements.
  • Search and Rescue members provide their own horses and ATVs.
  • A background investigation is required on all prospective members.
  • The standards and administration of the background investigation will be at the discretion of the Albemarle County Sheriff's Office. Successful completion of a background check is required for administration as a member.
If you are interested in joining Search and Rescue as a volunteer, please contact the Albemarle County Sheriff's Office through the “Contact Us” Section of this website.

Tim Payne
Search and Rescue Incident Commander

Volunteer Service: Eight Years of Volunteer Service Deputy Sheriff Reserve Division; Certified Courtroom and Civil Process Officer; Member of Piedmont Search and Rescue-Field Team Leader, Tracker, Search and Rescue Instructor; Project Life Saver Instructor-Assistant Project Manager

Personal Information: T.D. Payne Plumbing & Heating Company

J. E. "Chip" Harding

Albemarle Sheriff's Office
410 E. High Street
Charlottesville, Va 22902