The 5-year-old Centreville girl had run away from her grandmother while taking a walk on a trail near their home. A police helicopter flew overhead as the Fairfax County officers searched for the little girl on the cold winter day in the early months of 2012.
Pfc. Gerard Sullivan, an officer at the , started thinking about where he'd go if he was five years old, and decided to take a look underneath a bridge on Lee Highway. The little girl was there, standing waist-deep in freezing, fast-moving water. Sullivan quickly went into the creek, scooped up the little girl and brought her back to her family.
The rescue was among the reasons that the Sully District Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) recently named Sullivan as Officer of the Quarter. Sullivan was not present at the most recent CAC meeting to accept the award, but his supervisor, 2nd Lt. Ryan Morgan, spoke highly of him.
"PFC Sullivan never complained about being cold or tired and only after the event concluded asked permission if he could return to the station to change out his wet clothes," Morgan wrote on the nomination form. "I believe the actions PFC Sullivan took that day embody his character as a Fairfax County Police officer."
Sullivan, a former military officer, is also crew leader for a new police initiative, the Paramilitary Attack Counter Offensive Plan (PACOP). The plan is being piloted at the Sully District Station, as a way to stop shooters. Morgan said it was an easy choice to make Sullivan a team leader.
"There a few officers that can match the professionalism and character exhibited by PFC Sullivan on a daily basis," Morgan wrote.