Aquia Harbour Police Chief Patricia Harman doesn’t remember what she actually told daytime TV host Steve Harvey when he presented her with a Neighborhood Award earlier this month.
After hair and makeup had been done, producers told her to make sure not to make any type of face in the audience while cameras were running.
“I was practicing my gracious face, and then they called my name,” recalled Harman. “I don’t remember much about it but do remember going, ‘What?!’ It’s really quite a blur.”
Harman, chief of the 9,000-home Harbour community in Stafford County since 2008, had already been surprised days earlier upon hearing that she had been nominated for Harvey’s first on-television awards.
“The Neighborhood Awards recognize the unsung individuals and businesses who exemplify excellence in their communities,” according to a press release from the show.
Winning was even more of a shock. The whirlwind, 18-hour trip to Chicago was surreal, Harman said.
“It was very, very fast, and very wild, I didn’t expect to win,” Harman said. “It came out of left field.”
Aquia Harbour residents are now jokingly asking for her autograph around the community.
Unfortunately, though, viewers won’t be able to watch the full show in this area when it airs on Friday. It’s being pre-empted by hockey games. No other broadcasts are planned for now, though repeats could be aired in the future.
A one-minute clip of Harman winning has been posted to the Steve Harvey YouTube account.
Upon winning the recognition, she said: “I was a troubled kid, and the Prince William County police let me go on a ride-along when I was 15 years old. And it changed my life.
“And when kids get in trouble in my community, arrest is the last thing we do. We help them. Helping out a kid in trouble really can change a life, and a neighborhood. It changed mine. Thank you so much.”
Another Virginia business was recognized on the show, as well. Karin’s Florist in Vienna was named the best in its category.
On vacation when producers from the “Steve Harvey Show” show first called, Harman worried about leaving work yet again for the taping. So she flew out the night of Nov. 13, and was back the next day after two hours of filming.
At the airport, a limousine carried her to a hotel with views overlooking Chicago.
The next morning, producers prepped her in a green room, separate from the other award nominees. She didn’t meet any of the other officers who were nominated. Harman was led to an assigned chair in the audience for the show’s taping.
Harvey had hosted an awards banquet in Las Vegas for years, but it was never televised. This was a scaled-down version, and winners receive mostly publicity from the national exposure.
Categories include best day care provider, principal, bus driver, police officer, deli, bakery, pizzeria, florist, steakhouse and coffee shop.
Viewers made nominations and then chose the final winners.
Aquia Harbour resident Diane Davis first nominated Harman because of the dedication she has shown, detailing ways the chief cares for and protects the community. She said they are lucky to have her.
“From barking dogs, teaching kids safety, medical emergencies, dogs escaping, cars broken into and families getting locked out of houses,” Davis wrote in an email. “She is always ready to help. In a nutshell she gets to know us and would do anything for us. I could go on and on about her as you can see. She goes above and beyond for us.”
Harvey, a popular entertainer who hosts his own show on NBCU, has long been one of Harman’s and her son’s favorite comedians—along with Bill Cosby—because of his clean humor.
Meeting Harvey, and being nominated and voted the top community police officer by residents in the gated development that straddles Aquia Creek, may be two of the highlights of Harman’s long police career.
She started working for the Prince William County police at the age of 15, and retired after 30 years.
Shortly after, the chief position in the Harbour opened up, and Harman has enthusiastically embraced community policing and building a bond with her seven officers.
“I would have loved to have them there with me. Without them, I’m just a paper pusher,” Harman said.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975