Brian Higgins: Laurel Ridge police officer served his country as a U.S. Army ranger ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
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Brian Higgins: Laurel Ridge police officer served his country as a U.S. Army ranger

Higgins at Laurel Ridge
Sgt. Brian Higgins has spent six years with Laurel Ridge Campus Police.

Laurel Ridge Campus Police Sgt. Brian Higgins has spent the past four decades protecting and serving his fellow citizens.

Of his 18 years of police service, the past six have been with Laurel Ridge Community College. Sgt. Higgins has also worked with the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and George Mason University’s Department of Police and Public Safety.

He was a passionate football player at Garfield Senior High School in Dale City, but his playing days were cut short by injury.

“Some recruiter showed up and said, get your GED and join the military and you will be promoted by the time you graduate,” Sgt. Higgins recalled.

This led to a 22-year career in the U.S. Army, where he served with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, retiring as a staff sergeant. Sgt. Higgins served in the first Iraqi War – Operation Desert Storm – and had further deployments to some of the world’s fiercest conflicts in recent years – Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and back to Iraq.

During his time in Afghanistan, his unit operated in the cave system, on the hunt for members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban. In Iraq, they trained Iraqi soldiers. While he was in Afghanistan, Sgt. Higgins was wounded by an improvised explosive device in 2004, leading to his receiving a Bronze Star.

He served as an instructor with the Regimental Training Institute for the National Guard at Fort Pickett, and has served in Germany, Ft. Benning, Ga., Louisiana and in Colorado, where he attended mountain warfare school.

Following the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993, Sgt. Higgins left the Army for a period.

“It was pretty horrendous,” he said. “I took a five-year break and then I went back.”

Overall, Sgt. Higgins’s military experience was a positive one.

“Being in the military was rewarding,” said the father of four, who also has two grandchildren. “I learned a lot, both life skills and technical skills, things that I think shaped me and molded me into who I am today. And it definitely spilled over into the law enforcement world.”

One of his favorite assignments was in Germany, at the same barracks where Elvis Presley had been stationed.

Higgins parachuting

Sgt. Higgins during his U.S. Army days.

“I had a blast in Germany,” Sgt. Higgins said. “They had the Elivs Presley Chow Hall, the Elvis Presley barbershop.”

There is also a strong bond among soldiers, he said.

“The camaraderie is there,” said Sgt. Higgins. “They kind of instill the sense of duty. At the time, I kind of felt like the only thing I was good at was soldiering.”

The training he received and the work he did translated well into police work, but it was his next-door neighbor, a sergeant with the police department at GMU, who convinced him to join the force. Sgt. Higgins was working long hours as an electrician when the neighbor approached him.

“She came over with an application one day,” he said.

The best part about working at Laurel Ridge is the people, students and staff, said Sgt. Higgins.

“Everybody’s got a story,” he said.

Sgt. Higgins isn’t just an employee at Laurel Ridge; he’s also a student. He recently earned a career studies certificate as a drone operator, using his G.I. Bill benefits to pay for his tuition. Sgt. Higgins has three drones, including one he built as part of his studies.

“It’s interesting,” he said. “Drones are the future. There’s public safety and all kinds of things you can use them for. The class was awesome. It was challenging and fun. The cool part is you build a drone and it flies.”

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.