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Loudoun Republican chairman candidate calls for county police department

The Republican candidate for Loudoun County chairman is calling for the Board of Supervisors to begin the process of creating a county police department in wake of recent allegations against the sheriff and former officeholders and law enforcement candidates.

Charlie King said the recent announcement that a special prosecutor has been assigned to investigate whether Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman illegally obtained and published private emails from his primary opponents and concealed the true source of his campaign contributions in his bid for re-election “.. are embarrassing and distract from the mission of law enforcement.”

King was also referring to allegations that surfaced in 2010 that then-Sheriff Steve Simpson took $35,000 in campaign contributions from Osama El-Atari who was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for scheming banks out of more than $71 million. In December 2010, Simpson returned $15,000 in campaign contributions to a local nonprofits as a result of the allegations.

In addition, allegations surfaced in 2011 against Ron Speakman, who was vying for the Republican nomination against Chapman at the time, that he sent a lewd photo of himself to a woman he met at a bar and was accused in Fairfax County Court documents of beating up a man at a bar and being involved in a lover’s quarrel that ended in gunfire.

“Subjecting professional law enforcement officers to political turmoil every four years, and the uncertainty as to whether their careers may come to an end when the Sheriff begins a new term, is unfair to those who risk their lives to save ours,” King said in a prepared statement. “With a police department, these officers would be afforded the same protections as all county employees.”

King is vying for the chairman seat against incumbent Scott York, who is running as an independent, and Democrat Phyllis Randall.

In his call for a county police department, King also criticized York's decision to ignore citizens' wants and needs in law enforcement.

“... For sixteen years, our current Chairman has said he wants a professional police department, but for sixteen years he's been negligent in taking any action to accomplish this for our citizens,” King said.

York said King's proposal for a county police department shows a lack of understanding of how government works and the needs of Loudoun County.
The incumbent said it was an 11th hour act of desperation on the part of his opponent.

“Replacing our law enforcement structure is a bad idea, a costly idea, and one that would require a change in the form of government we have here in Loudoun County,” York said in a prepared statement.

York said it would also require General Assembly approval and could make the county staff more powerful and less accountable to elected public officials.
The chairman said he had entertained the idea of a county police department in 2011, but under Simpson's administration, which he described as “lagging.”

Simpson said he believes King's call for a county police department has to do with Chapman's leadership.

“Though this is not something I would have supported when I served as sheriff, the last four years have caused me to take a second look,” Simpson said in a statement. “While this would not be a cure-all to the political problems we have seen in this last term, it would give our local elected board a greater check and balance against any abuses within our primary law enforcement agency. Currently, only the people can make any changes and then only every four years. As we have seen, that may be too long to wait.”

Chapman disagreed, saying the Loudoun County Government Reform Commission in 2012 rejected the idea of a county police department as an inefficient and costly replacement.

“It was clear that the system we have in place is sufficient,” the sheriff said.

“The fact is that contrary to what King has said, we have the lowest crime rate and the highest citizen satisfaction rate. I think it's critical that the people have a say in what's working and what's beneficial.”


The more I read the committees summary and recommendation for not going to a PD the more I see it as the committee got the wool pulled over their eyes by a slick PowerPoint and politician who had pure and simple motives to stay a S.O.  - Power.

There may be a reason that LCSO is the largest Sheriff’s Office in Va.  Others got to a certain size and saw the benefit of switching..so they did.
I mean for the committee to allow the Sheriff’s Office to get away with the .8 ratio is sad.  You can’t compare that kind of ratio to what a PD would do, especially when a S.O. counts all sworn people that include the jail, courts and civil process.  A PD takes patrol personnel and uses it for a ratio.  This is my understanding of how that is done.  Did the committee question this? I’m guessing no.

The article about the lack of public interest in off year elections (in today’s LTM paper) is again another reason that there is not really an “answering to the people” control for public safety officials. 

I would argue again that sadly people don’t pay too much attention and when voter turnout is so low, then how is that people really make informed decisions on public safety leaders?  I argue, they don’t and especially when what is pushed to the public is statistics that are spun.  Also well crafted public releases that give false impressions on involvement.

Another point about the committee’s review on a PD was the information about the tenure of a Chief is about 2 1/2 years on average vs the Sheriff’s average stay of 12 years. Now some have argued that having control by the people lets them determine leaders so that when tactics and strategies change, then the public safety leaders will be changed by the voters.

The only problem with that is the study in the article posted today, and the average tenure stay of a Chief (2 1/2 years) vs the average (12 years) for a Sheriff.  Seems like the fresher approach would be with the shorter turn around average compared to those “politicians” who get in office and just stay and stay and stay.  I would bet that the Sheriff’s Office administration is more prone to getting left behind over time.  PD is a national search and not subject to strange elections and not really knowing who is in office until it is too late.

Sorry CousinSam that you misunderstood what I was saying about costs.  I wrote that phasing it in would minimize costs over time.  Not sure where you got that I said it was a “zero cost proposition”?

If a PD is created, it could be split pretty quickly on personnel and positions.  Current patrol, investigations personnel would move to the PD and this would include all support personnel who are with those divisions.  Any dual duties with the Sheriff’s Office could be phased out or create new positions over time.

Uniforms would need to be changed pretty quickly and the markings on the cars could be phased out as well (if it is legally possible to do so) over the life of the vehicles, especially for older cars that will be taken out of service within a couple of years.  Those cars could wait and when replaced the newer cars would have the PD markings.  So those costs would be minimized greatly.  These seem to be reasonable ways to phase it in (again, if it is legal)  I’m just suggesting ways to minimize costs. I see for some it doesn’t matter what is suggested and they will read what they want to read. I’ll admit that I may be wrong on the legalities and if some of this is possible. Just saying that there may be possibilities to minimize costs. 

I’ll give one more little piece of the play on words that takes place with listening to politicians like a Sheriff (like in the report) when considering a PD.  I believe it was referenced that Loudoun County has a .8 to 1000 ratio and PDs usually are higher.

What is funny about that is this;  A PD does not count the Sheriff Personnel (like the jail or courts) when factoring in ratios.  A PD takes their personnel who respond to calls.  So I am guessing that LSCO says they have 500 sworn people. That is patrol, Jail, Courts and civil process- everybody. With the County population and using 500 I’m guessing that is right, but that is not accurate. We all know that if those numbers are used that it is not an accurate ratio that is used by the Sheriff’s Office.  Again, I don’t have answers on how they get their numbers and can only go off of their website.

A closer number to what should be factored in to a ratio would be using about 240 from patrol, another 50 from investigations. This would be closer to a 1.3 to 1000 ratio. 

Your point on NYC and Baltimore again is laughable because once again you are looking at big city, large departments and equating it to every other PD in the country. Again, painting with a broad brush.  That is too bad.  So the two you reference negates the thousands of other PDs throughout the country? I’m not sure I am following the logic.

There is just now way this is a zero cost proposition as FH suggests.  Maybe the number of officers remains the same but there definitely would be a management staff (chiefs and secretaries), facilities, and equipment that both agencies would want to maintain. Having a police force that is beholden to the populace is a good thing and can avoid the conflicts that we are seeing in other jurisdictions.  Let’s not do anything that would make the police forces less engaged, less accountable, and less inclined to change with the times.

An elected Sheriff position lets the community vote to change the direction of policing if needed.  To do otherwise invites corrupt entrenched cops that only answer to corrupt politicians.  To wit, NYC, Baltimore, etc.

Thank you Stiflersmom, I apologize you are correct. 

I find it curious though that the study was tepid with their recommendation.  They wrote that they saw no convincing reason to change.  However the more troubling part of it was that they admitted that they would not look back into previous administrations, but took information and direction from Sheriff Chapman (who had been in office for what? A year or so?  Like I’ve said every Sheriff does not want to give that up, so that is really not a too indepth study.  I will readily admit that I will read more on it to see if there is any more substantive information in it.  I’m inclined to just dismiss the study if that is all there is to it.  Thank you again.

FH, the GRC’s study was published in Oct 2012, not the decades ago you erroneously mentioned.

I’m not sure where to begin with some of these comments but I’ll start with FredSanford.
The apples and orange comparison between Loudoun and Fairfax is a real stretch.  I guess you don’t take into consideration populations, density issues as well as more low income housing areas (where crime does spike up), interstate highways and just paint with a broad brush. This is disingenuous at best.
Also, “ALL the places with a police force have never ending issues with crime”?  All?  I think this is beyond a stretch.  So Middleburg PD, Purcellville PD, Prince William PD,Fairfax PD, Leesburg PD and the many, many others are having never ending issues with crime?  I don’t think so, and what do you think is happening here?  Crime is going up (Robberies up each year since Chapman is in office, Homicides up in 2014 from 2013, Aggravated Assaults up 2014 vs 2013.) All you get now is political spin on public safety issues.  I believe many people want just straight talk from our public safety leaders, no spin!
CousinSam as well is off the mark.  You phase in a Police Department (after it is voted in on a referendum) over some time which minimizes cost all at once.  You obviously don’t get rid of the the Sheriff’s Office (because you can’t).  The only thing that a Sheriff’s Office is legally bound to perform are; the courts, the jail and process serving.  The patrol and investigations sections would be phased into a police department, with a true law enforcement leader that is screened, researched and background done on.  As well as multiple interviews and public questions and answer forums.  The public would have buy in and an opportunity to be in the process.  You end up with a well qualified leader who is searched nationally and not just someone who lives here. 

People are referencing a study a decade or so ago.  That was a long time ago and Loudoun has changed in the last 20 years.  We are not the same bedroom communities that were here in the 1990s.  It is time for change.

I subscribe to the theory that the BoS need to be stakeholders and part owners in the safety issues. Currently the board and sheriff point fingers at each other.  With a Chief, the BoS are on the hook as well with elections. It becomes an all inclusive group working together, and with a healthy oversight and accountability.

The old line of voters need to have a say in this is a concern.  Look where we are now.  Voters (many of them) don’t pay attention to law enforcement because many don’t have interaction with them.  So in reality how many people are making an informed decision.  Let’s not even get started on protections for the Deputies and keeping their jobs every 4 years.  Unlike last time where Chapman dismissed many decade long Sheriff’s Office employees just by rumor or getting input from a few people and then not swearing them back in.  Just like that, someone may have been in their 25th year working here and then they are gone. No recourse.  That is a fair and contemporary way for public safety employees and their families to go through. 
I think voters are ready for change with real leadership and straight talk.  Real strategies from real experience and not just a PIO with a Federal Agency.

No, No no… we absolutely don’t need another expensive police bureaucracy with overlapping duties.  Where would the money for this come from?  We know Republicans can’t fund what they propose so it’ll all come out of the school system funds.  You can’t eliminate the Sheriff without the state’s permission so we’ll be paying for more police than we need: 

Here’s the VA code:

§ 15.2-1609. Sheriff.

The voters in every county and city shall elect a sheriff unless otherwise provided by general law or special act. The sheriff shall exercise all the powers conferred and perform all the duties imposed upon sheriffs by general law. He shall enforce the law or see that it is enforced in the locality from which he is elected; assist in the judicial process as provided by general law; and be charged with the custody, feeding and care of all prisoners confined in the county or city jail. He may perform such other duties, not inconsistent with his office, as may be requested of him by the governing body. The sheriff shall be elected as provided by general law for a term of four years.

Funny York had a problem with Simpson when he was Sheriff. York should be thankful Simpson chose not to pursue criminal charges for simple assault.

Has one NOT read the Government Reform Commission’s study on the cost/duties of adding a PD to the County? And why didn’t the LTM do their job and show the document to this study. Otherwise it solely appears the LTM is the marketing Press Release hub for the King Campaign.

We had this debate last decade when York and Simpson had issues with each other.

The idea of a Sheriff is that law enforcement run by whomever the people elect, not who the Government appoints. The problem with government appointees is they don’t answer to the people, but to a politician.

I rather have law enforcement focus on issues that concern the people they serve and protect, who can be replaced if they violate the people’s trust.

It should be clear why a Government Prospect is calling for a Police force with a Chief that answers to him vs. the people.

Every place in America where you find a Sheriff in control, crime is low. All the places with a police force have never ending issues with crime. Just compare the crime stats between Fairfax and Loudoun, ‘nuff said.

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