Longest Serving Deputy Retires from Sheriff’s Office

February 16, 2010

Captain Kathy LittleAfter 36 years of service, Captain Katherine Little is retiring from the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office, where she has served longer than any deputy sheriff in the 268-year history of the Sheriff's Office.

Little began her career on July 9, 1973, as a deputy sheriff "matron." During this time, she was one of only five women in the agency. While matrons were paid the same as male deputies, their assignments were limited to the care of female inmates and administrative duties. During her tenure in confinement, she successfully argued that women should have the same job title as men. At the time, Sheriff Swinson accepted her proposal, and deputy sheriff matrons became deputy sheriffs. Little's first uniform included a taupe colored skirt with a brown stripe down each side. Her starting salary was $4.80/hour, just under $10,000 per year. Today, the starting salary of a newly hired deputy sheriff is over $45,000 per year.

After three years in confinement, Little was transferred to the Criminal Justice Academy, serving as the academic coordinator and general instructor. In 1977, she was promoted to Sergeant and worked as the supervisor in the programs section and the residential and treatment units. She was also the agency's training coordinator. After being promoted to Lieutenant in 1988, she was assigned as the assistant director at the Criminal Justice Academy. Promoted to Captain in 1993, she served as chief of the financial services branch and held postings to human resources, inmate services, classification and, most recently, the alternative incarceration branch.

"I want to thank Kathy for her many contributions to the Sheriff's Office. Her commitment and dedication is unrivaled, and she will be sorely missed," said Fairfax Sheriff Stan Barry. "I wish her all the best in her future endeavors."

During nearly four decades of service with the Sheriff's Office, Little has served under four different Sheriffs and accomplished many "firsts." She was the first female deputy with a college degree, the first female to earn a promotion through a competitive process, the first female assigned to a position outside of female confinement and the first female deputy assigned to the Criminal Justice Academy. Little says that women and minorities have many more opportunities for job assignments and promotions today than when she began. Gender-based assignments no longer exist for Fairfax County deputies.

Prior to her employment with the Sheriff's Office, Little attended Mary Washington College, earning a bachelor's degree in sociology and a state teacher's certification. In 1980, she received her master's degree in special studies/criminal justice with an emphasis in forensic science from George Washington University, graduating with honors. Little grew up primarily in the Northern Virginia area, but her father's job assignments took the family all over the world to include Egypt, Thailand and Taiwan.

When asked what she'll miss most about the Sheriff's Office, Little stated, "the daily interaction with the people that I work with." She has always lived by the motto, "People will forget what you said and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Little plans to get back into dancing, cooking, catching up on her reading and spending more time with her dog Rocky. She is also planning to travel to New York City, see the wine country in California and sightsee in Ireland and Scotland.

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