Who is Chip Harding? The Harding Family Chip's Resume

Who is Chip Harding?

Chip was first local officer ever selected to supervise JADE - our area's multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force

"I'm a cop with a degree in social work," Chip Harding often says when asked about his approach to law enforcement. "Although some people find that to be an unusual combination, I do not."

While still in college, Chip became committed to breaking the cycle that was leading so many troubled youths to lives of crime as adults. During his summers off from Virginia Commonwealth University, Chip worked at the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center in Powhatan County and interned at a juvenile halfway house in Richmond. After graduating in 1974, he became a probation counselor with Virginia's juvenile court system.

Chip showed his young offenders "tough love," holding them accountable for following the conditions of their probation, such as attending school every day and being home before their court-imposed curfew every night.

But after four years, he said, he found himself "working within a system that wasn't prepared to back me up. Good-intentioned judges were giving kids break after break and, in my view, creating a new generation of hardcore criminals."

In 1978, Chip left the Juvenile Court and joined the Charlottesville Police Department, where he started out "walking the beat" on Charlottesville's then-new Downtown Mall. Chip was soon was promoted to detective where he worked many violent crimes over the next few years.

By the early 80s, Chip's focus had shifted almost entirely to the damaging effects that illegal drugs were having on the community "It seemed that 80 percent of the people I was arresting were abusing drugs," he said. He became so concerned about this drug-crime connection that "I began to come in on my own time and make drug arrests independent of my regular case load."

Chip later became one of the area's first detectives dedicated full time to narcotics cases and worked with the Virginia General Assembly on legislation that now allows assets seized from drug dealers to be retained by police to beef up their drug enforcement programs. In 1989, then Sergeant Chip Harding was the first local officer ever selected to supervise a Federal Drug Taskforce.

Chip receives his diploma from then FBI Director Louis Freeh

For a decade, Chip has been a champion for using DNA to solve crimes. In 1997, when he discovered that Virginia's innovative DNA databank was producing few results because it had never been adequately funded by the General Assembly, he founded the group Citizens for DNA. Citizens for DNA lobbied the governor and General Assembly, which ultimately voted with strong bipartisan support to fund the Databank fully.

Since then, the Databank's rate of "hits"-when evidence from a current crime scene is matched with the DNA of a previously convicted criminal-from two or three per year to two or three per day. Furthermore, the Charlottesville-Albemarle area, in particular, has one of the nation's highest per-capita rates of crimes solved by DNA evidence.

For six years, Chip held the rank of captain with the Charlottesville Police Department. In that position, he provided top-level leadership to a department of more than 100 officers while diligently managing a complex, multi-million-dollar budget.

In 2007, Chip was recognized in New Orleans by Parade Magazine and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. At their annual banquet he was presented a plaque recognizing him as one of the “Top 10 Cops In America”.

On November 7, 2007, he won the election for sheriff of Albemarle County by 10% of the vote. He took office as sheriff on January 1, 2008 and currently holds that position. Chip plans on seeking re-election in 2011.

He relies on his diverse experience in all levels of law enforcement, his continuing formal education - he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and has completed a number of courses in strategic leadership at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business-and his ongoing, "real-world" education from his personal mentors-leaders in law enforcement locally and across the country.

J. E. "Chip" Harding

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