Virginia State Police helps Steele bring his public service home

Published 8:32 pm Monday, April 10, 2023

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Family helped lead Bryce Steele, of Southampton County, into law enforcement, and family was the motivation for Steele to join the Virginia State Police in 2022.

As noted in a VSP news release, Steele was one of 34 members that made up the Virginia State Police 138th Basic Session through the Accelerated Lateral Entry Program.

The program accepts pre-certified Virginia law enforcement officers, the release stated, adding that each candidate for trooper must have been in good standing with their former law enforcement employer(s) and underwent an extensive background investigative and testing process. 

Steele, 26, began his career in law enforcement in the summer of 2018 when he joined the Norfolk Police Department, a decision that he noted was motivated by family.

“My dad was a Virginia Beach police officer, and I just kind of followed in his footsteps, and I just enjoy serving the public and making the state a safer place,” he said.

He served with the NPD for four years.

“I actually promoted to detective with them, did that for about a year and a half,” he said.

He made detective at the notably young age of 24.

“My sergeant, who did my interview to become a detective, actually told me afterward, he was like, ‘I didn’t realize how young you were when I did the interview,’ because he looked at my resumé, he just didn’t really look at my date of birth or anything,” Steele said, “and based off my resumé, my military service and just how I had myself in the interview, they pulled me over to be a detective.”
Steele moved to Southampton County when he was about 13 and has lived there ever since.

“It’s where I call home,” he said.

This meant that his commute to work in Norfolk could be as long as 90 minutes one way.

“I wanted to be a little closer to home, spend a little more time with family,” he said. “I talked to a state police recruiter, and he pretty much sold it to me.”

The VSP news release noted that members of the 138th Basic Session began their eight weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the academy in Richmond on Oct. 30, 2022. 

State police officials stated that after receiving more than 300 hours of classroom and field instruction in nearly 50 different subjects, including defensive tactics, cultural diversity, bias-free and community relations, crime scene investigation, ethics and leadership, police professionalism, firearms, judicial procedures, officer survival and crisis management, Steele and the other 33 members of the 138th Basic Session were presented their diplomas Dec. 30, 2022.

Steele said the most challenging part of the academy for him was being away from family.

“So I’ve been gone from family (while serving in the U.S. Army), and it’s always hard, but the being able to go home every weekend forces you to have to say, ‘Bye’ every weekend,” he said. “The emotional drag was the hardest part. I’ve had an easier time dealing with being gone for months at a time than I have coming home every week and having to say goodbye to the kids and wife every weekend.”

But in addition to that, he indicated that the VSP ensured the academy activities were a challenge as well.

“They squeezed everything they normally had in a six-month academy into eight weeks,” he said. “So our days were super-long. I think our first week, we averaged almost 30 hours of overtime.”

Asked what it meant to graduate, he said, “Honestly, it means the world, kind of as a different level of law enforcement.”

He noted that he looks forward to continuing to serve the public and make Virginia a safer place.

After graduation, members of the 138th returned to the academy for three weeks of hands-on training before heading to their assigned areas where each trooper was set to spend an additional six weeks paired up with a field training officer, learning his or her new patrol area.

At the time of his March 1 interview with The Tidewater News, Steele was in the midst of the six-week period of learning his new patrol area — Southampton County.

“It’s been phenomenal,” he said.