Camille LaBranche Blog Post #6 Son of a Fairfax Officer arrested after taking father’s cruiser for a ride

Having a father who works in the Fairfax County Police Department has its perks because he always has interesting stories to tell about the people he encounters or one’s his friends have encountered. Recently the 27 year old son of a Fairfax Police Officer was caught driving his father’s cruiser around Centreville with an 18 year old girl in the passenger’s seat. Before heading out on a joyride the son, James Berling, fired some shots of one of his father’s personal guns, which could be heard throughout the neighborhood. Quite a few people, including my mother’s boss who lives in that same neighborhood called 911 saying that it was an extremely uncommon thing to hear where they lived.

                Having been working that night my dad heard the story the trooper told when he got back from chasing Berling. He said that he began following the cruiser because he was bored and thought he may need backup for whatever reason and figured he’d assist with that. He said the cruiser was zipping through cars and speeding going at around 90-100 miles per hour so the trooper figured that it was something really important. He followed the car for a few miles but he said that once the boy in the cruiser saw the trooper, he slowed down for a bit then sped back up again and that’s when he knew that something was not right. Berling stopped the car and started running through the woods. The girl tried to follow but the trooper caught and detained her before she could catch up with Berling. The trooper had called it in when he noticed something wrong and the Fairfax County police set up a perimeter to look for Berling. They even had helicopters searching as well. Eventually, they found him in his father’s police uniform and there’s a possibility that he had been smoking weed.

The police officer who owned the car, Berling’s father, so far won’t be facing any consequences even though he was not allowed to leave his cruiser at home for more than three days, which he did. His son will be facing charges of “unauthorized use of vehicle, reckless handling of a firearm and impersonating a law enforcement officer” and the young girl that was with him will be facing charges of “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana”.

I personally find instances like this funny, because it’s just crazy how stupid some people can be and it’s fun to laugh at other people’s misfortunes when they’re that dumb. So this, for me, is like a source of entertainment, especially when my dad tells the stories. Clearly he did something he knew that he should not have and is facing the consequences to those actions. I can’t help but wonder, though, if he were someone else and not the white, male son of a respected FCP officer would he still just be facing all misdemeanors or would there be more serious consequences. As for his father though, he clearly shouldn’t have had his squad car at his home with the keys and shotgun accessible. That in itself is a violation but will most likely be swept under the rug by the Command staff for whatever reason. I know that officers are not treated equally and some can get away with anything so long as the general public don’t find out which is upsetting but I don’t see that changing anytime soon.


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