This time last year, Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister was still on administrative leave as since-proven-false accusations of misconduct against her were investigated. This year, the police department not only has McAlister back, but it’s also preparing to bring in its first-ever deputy chief.
Police Chief Cynthia McAlister and Town Manager David Mekarski on Wednesday hired Dave Dailey, a captain with the Arlington County Police Department, as the town’s deputy police chief. Dailey, 56, will work in the field with the department’s 13 officers, allowing McAlister to focus on administrative work. His position will also more clearly establish a succession of command. He will be paid more than $90,000 annually and will start work on March 4—replacing Diane Gittins, the City of Alexandria’s former police chief who has acted in the role on an interim basis since September 2018. “I’m quite excited to say the least,” McAlister said about the hire.
The town’s decision to hire its first-ever deputy police chief comes in response to a recommendation to do so by the Wilson Elser law firm and retired police chief Timothy Longo, following their review of the department early last year.
Dailey, a 26-year Ashburn resident, was picked for the job from a pool of 42 applicants, six of which McAlister, Mekarski and the Springsted/Waters Executive Recruitment firm selected for a final set of on-site interviews. Dailey said that he’s excited to get to work in Purcellville—a place he calls “the quintessential American town.” “I truly believe that’s what it is,” he said.
Dailey comes to Purcellville after 29 years working with the Arlington County Police Department in multiple ranks and roles, most recently as a captain serving as the commander of the Special Operations Section. Before that, he worked as the commander of the Organized Crime Section, the Internal Affairs Division and the Tactical Operations Section and as the deputy director of the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy.
McAlister said that Dailey has “a vast amount of knowledge” that will be “invaluable” to moving the department forward. She said that because Dailey has some experience that she doesn’t, and vice versa, they should work well together.
“He rose above many of the applications,” McAlister said. “I think it’s his broad, vast and deep background in such a variety of positions.”
McAlister said that Dailey would be working to mentor and manage the department’s officers, oversee policy updates, help with the search for a new headquarters and to establish one sergeant and four new lieutenant positions. “He will be super, super busy,” McAlister said.
While Dailey will be leaving a nearly three-decade-long career in Arlington on March 1, he’ll also be taking many memories with him—like the time he worked as a first-responder at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
Dailey was also honored with multiple awards while in Arlington, including the Life Saving and Meritorious Action Awards. He said those came as a result of helping to save the lives of two people on separate occasions.
For the Life Saving Award, Dailey led a crisis negotiation team to save an elderly man hanging from a 10-story hotel balcony in 2002. For the Meritorious Action Award, he saved a pregnant woman who was hanging by her fingertips from a 14-story apartment balcony in 1995.
Dailey said that his first priority in Purcellville would be to acquaint himself with not only the department’s officers and culture, but also with residents. He said that he’s looking forward to continuing police work from a department that protects 235,000 people to one that protects 10,000.
“It’s going to be a brand new experience,” he said. “I’m sure I’m going to be welcomed with open arms.”