She’s a decorated law enforcement officer with more than 25 years of experience in community policing who has recently breathed new life into the law enforcement division of a prominent state agency.
Now, following a nationwide search, Angela Comer will take the reins as the new chief of the Longwood University Police Department, Vice President for Student Affairs Cameron Patterson ’10, M.S. ’17 announced Monday.
“Angela is the kind of leader who naturally embraces Longwood’s mission of developing citizen leaders who are prepared to make positive contributions to society,” said Patterson, whose office oversees the university’s police department. “A defining through-line in her career that stood out to us was her ability to bring different people together to form safer communities. She’s done that at every level and at every command post, and is poised to bring that to bear here at Longwood.”
Angela is the kind of leader who naturally embraces Longwood’s mission of developing citizen leaders who are prepared to make positive contributions to society.Cameron Patterson ’10, M.S. ’17, Vice President for Student Affairs
Comer is currently a captain with Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources, where she manages Internal Affairs, Compliance, and Leadership Development for the law enforcement division. Previously, she spent the vast majority of her career in the Arlington County Police Department, rising from patrol officer and school resource officer to lieutenant overseeing the property crimes division. Comer holds a bachelor’s degree in government and international politics from George Mason University and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Troy University. She is also a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.
When she arrives on campus, she will take the lead of a professional police department accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. The department of fully sworn officers has concurrent jurisdiction with the Town of Farmville Police Department and works closely with the town and the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Department on a range of law enforcement issues.
“I’m excited to get to know the LUPD staff,” Comer said. “I’m committed to providing the necessary resources so our existing officers achieve their career goals, and to recruiting the next generation of police officers. In my career I’ve benefitted from police leadership who supported my ambitions and opened up doors for me. It’s a key role of a police chief, and I’m looking forward to stepping into that position.”
Comer’s varied background in law enforcement has led her to a perspective that puts people first.
“My philosophy in policing has always been to serve,” said Comer. “In fact, I prefer to lead with the words like engagement and partnership rather than policing. When law enforcement is present and engaged and we put ourselves in the position to be a part of a community rather than separate from the people we serve, we are all safer and more secure. I’m looking forward to getting to campus and meeting students, faculty, staff, parents, town and county partners, and a whole host of other folks.”
My time in the classroom shaped my life powerfully, and being a part of that atmosphere has been a career goal of mine.Angela Comer, new chief of the Longwood University Police Department
“In many ways, this position represents the reasons I got into law enforcement in the first place: the opportunity to affect lives in a positive way, to be an integral part in making a safe community, and the opportunity to mentor and educate,” she said. “My time in the classroom shaped my life powerfully, and being a part of that atmosphere has been a career goal of mine.”
Throughout her tenure in Arlington, Comer developed the reputation as a fair-minded leader who drew on her family’s history to propel an ongoing conversation about the role of police in the Northern Virginia community. Her father, Irving Comer, was the first Black police officer in Arlington County, and left a legacy that has informed Angela Comer’s life and career.
“There’s no denying that I have a distinct lens through which I interact with the community around me,” said Comer. “I am a Black female in a predominately male profession and a profession that hasn’t always had a positive relationship with Black and other minority communities. But that puts me in a unique position to show people who look like me that policing doesn’t have to be what they’ve traditionally experienced, and that success in the profession is attainable. My experience serving the diverse Arlington County community and Department of Wildlife Resources constituents is no less important, which I will leverage to serve the Longwood community responsively and equitably.”
Not one to shy away from tough conversations, Comer is eager to engage in open and respectful exchanges of ideas with the campus community.
“It’s through the tough conversations that we grow,” she said. “I’ve always looked at them as an opportunity to learn from others, to express my point of view, and to build consensus.”
During a lengthy interview process, Comer met with a panel of current police chiefs at Virginia universities, led by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, where she garnered praise for her impeccable service record and willingness to push the law enforcement community forward.
During her 24-year tenure in Arlington County, Comer spent six years as a detective in the special victims unit, where she investigated sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence, stalking, and harassment cases. One of those cases, a high-profile cyber-stalking case that resulted in a seven-year sentence for the suspect, garnered national media attention and earned her the 2013 Arlington County Crime Solvers’ Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.
Early in her career in Arlington, Comer served as the School Resource Officer Unit Team Leader, where she spearheaded the development of modern school safety plans and managed security at a variety of events.
“I’ve always enjoyed being around young people,” she said. “The great thing about young people is that they always bring new perspectives to the way things are done. I like that they don’t think the way we do and aren’t afraid to speak their minds—we can all learn from that. That’s one of the great things about being in college: you start to develop the foundation of who you are. It’s a time when people can make mistakes and learn to take risks. I see myself as a resource in that time of growth while keeping the guardrails of law enforcement up.”