9-year-old chief for the day won’t give officers weekends off


Patrick Omberg, chief for the day, learns about police motorcycles. (Susan Omberg)

Before his swearing-in as Arlington County’s police chief on Tuesday, Patrick Omberg had big plans. He wanted Spiderman as a side-kick, the smallest police horse in the world and a chance to put his annoying sister in jail.

Chief Omberg didn’t achieve any of those aims on his first and only day in office. But the 9-year-old, who won an essay contest and was honored as chief for a day, said that his behind-the-scenes tour of the police department still lived up to his expectations.

“It looks exciting,” he said about the police force. He doesn’t know whether he wants to be a police officer when he grows up, but if he does join the police, he said he would want to be a K-9 officer. Or maybe one who gets to ride a motorcycle.

Omberg got to hide some fake evidence — a screwdriver and a shell casing — in the bushes to watch a police dog find it. He got a ride from his house to the police station in a police cruiser, and a tour of the jail.

“They’ll lock you up,” he said, calling the jail “a sad place.”


Patrick Omberg started his day as Arlington police chief with a ride to work in a police car. (Susan Omberg)

He talked to the county’s full-time police chief, Douglas Scott, about what people do to end up in jail.

“Do bad stuff, like punch,” Omberg explained. “Stealing.”

Public information officer Dustin Sternbeck said that some officers hoped they could get some leniency from their new chief, but Omberg proved to be a tough boss.

“Most of the force and his staff were asking for things such as pay raises, to get to go home early, weekends off,” Sternbeck joked. “He actually stuck with it and said that he thinks there should be police working weekends. A lot of the officers who suggested such things, he kind of chuckled and laughed them off and said, ‘Get back to what we’re here to do.’ He kind of put everybody in their place.”

Julie Zauzmer is a local news reporter.
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