Lieutenant’s video named finalist for community grant


Alexa Doiron

Lt. Andy Wilburn is a finalist in a grant competition to raise money for crime prevention in the community. Wilburn hopes to use part of the funds for the Radford Help Save the Next Girl chapter. Gil Harrington (left) and her husband founded HSTNG.

Lieutenant Andy Wilburn of the Radford City Police Department has entered the “Why We Serve” grant competition presented by Aftermath.

Aftermath is a nation-wide crime scene clean up and biohazard remediation company. The grant of $5,000 would be awarded to a video contest winner who explained their reasons for becoming an officer in a short, three-minute clip.

Wilburn first became aware of the competition when Aftermath representative visited agencies in the area. Since becoming in charge of the crime prevention and community outreach program 19 months ago, Wilburn said he realized there needed to be more community interaction.

In the last year, Wilburn found a way to fulfill this need through the Help Save the Next Girl campaign. Help Save the Next Girl is a national non-profit organization formed in honor of Morgan Dana Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who was abducted and murdered in 2009.

If Wilburn were to win the grant, he said he would use it to help with the campaign.

“My budget is small, and I’m always looking for ways to do more with less money, so the grant idea was a no brainer,” Wilburn said. “It gave me an opportunity to share my message on a platform that will reach so many people.”

The campaign is a grassroots project that focuses on education, awareness and responsibility. Help Save the Next Girl’s goal is to continually develop vital relationships with media and law enforcement. The campaign believes that connections enhance their ability to quickly disseminate urgent information, such as a missing person notice. Help Save the Next Girl also provides outreach support to victims’ families. The group believes media presence also promotes its mission to keep young women and campus communities alert to predatory danger.

“By implementing the core messages from HSTNG, we can reduce crime by being more aware of our surroundings, educated on current crime trends and victimizations and by simply looking out for each other,” Wilburn said. “Although the organization is geared toward our young people, the message can be applied to all of us.”

The campaign is important Wilburn, and the grant money would go towards aspects of crime prevention in this regard as well as others. Some ideas Wilburn has are to use the money to focus on the educational part of crime prevention. This could include buying what is known as a “blog camera”— an $800 camera that Wilburn borrowed to shoot his video for the competition. This would help promote social media and awareness of crime prevention techniques that everyday citizens can implement.

“I want to offer our community faith based organizations training on safety and security,” Wilburn said.

Additionally, the camera would align with the goals of Help Save the Next Girl to produce accurate and timely information on missing person’s cases.

In his video, Wilburn talks about how he became an officer and his passion behind his work. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Wilburn said he understands the challenges that can face a community as well as those who serve it.

“Our relationship with the community is crucial to our effectiveness,” Wilburn said. “With the national events and negativity surrounding this profession, it’s more important now than ever to have trust in our community.”

To watch for Wilburn’s submission visit, Those interested in voting can do so at this link once a day until Friday, Aug. 11.

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