The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to begin the process of studying changing the county’s form of government.

The vote

The board directed staff to study changing the Loudoun County form of government, develop a list of governing and law enforcement options, specifically including the establishment of a Loudoun County Police Department in all options.

The board approved the measure 6-3, with supervisors Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin), Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) opposing.

What’s next

A report to the board will be provided no later than Jan. 31, 2021. 

If Loudoun voters were to approve a referendum for a county police department in 2021 and the General Assembly finalized the shift in the winter 2022 session, the Loudoun County Police Department would become operational by Jan. 1, 2024.

The county is currently under a “traditional” form of government, which does not require a police department. However, under “county executive” and “urban county executive” forms of government, having a police department is required.

Another distinction in the non-traditional forms of government is that two constitutional officers, treasurer and commissioner of revenue, are not required. In Loudoun, those offices are currently held by Roger Zurn (R) and Robert Wertz (R), respectively.

Buffington’s move to table fails, Turner withdraws second motion

Buffington, who said "we don't have a problem" with regards to law enforcement, attempted to table the discussion, with a second by Umstattd. The motion failed 3-6, with only Umstattd and Kershner supporting the attempt.

Supervisor Turner also withdrew his motion to direct staff to place an item on the agenda calling for a vote to petition the Circuit Court for a referendum to be placed on the Nov. 2, 2021, General Election ballot.

Turner made the decision after five supervisors said they didn’t favor the motion before a vote was cast. Opponents said the motion was "political."

“The reason I wanted this motion is because I want a point in time, because realistically we cannot do this and put it off too long and so that's why I'm establishing it," Turner said. “However, the motion is clearly going to fail at this point.”

More about the conflict

Some members of the board have voiced support for implementing a county police department out of concern for deputies’ job security and the office’s transparency. They believe the fast-growing county would be better served by a police chief who reports to the county administrator.

A county police department would dramatically reduce the reach and scope of the county sheriff’s office, though it would not completely eliminate it. Neighboring Fairfax County operates with a police department taking primary law enforcement duties across the county, while the sheriff’s office oversees courthouse security and oversight of the jail. It’s expected Loudoun would operate similarly, with a county police chief hired by the county administrator. The sheriff, in their reduced role, would still be elected.

Sheriff Chapman has fervently opposed the idea, touting the success of the sheriff’s office in the process and stating that replacing the sheriff’s office with a police department would cost at least $20 million for personnel and equipment start-up costs, though those figures were compiled by the LCSO and have been called into question by Randall.

Chapman says a police department would waste millions of dollars in subsequent maintenance and personnel costs and divide a “unified” and “highly successful” organization.

Sheriff does not object to the study

Chapman said what concerned him about the process to establish a county police department was the board’s attempts to go straight to a voter referendum in November without further information being provided to the public. The sheriff said he looks forward to the study.

"I just want to make sure that the study is done professionally [and] independently, and it will give everybody all the information they need to make the appropriate decision on where we go,” Chapman said. “I really don't object to a comprehensive, well-done study that has input from law enforcement, not just from the county.”

The board’s take

Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) on including law enforcement in collective bargaining: “I want our law enforcement to be able to — to use a ‘Hamilton’ term — 'be in the room where it happens,' and right now ... it is no fault of anyone, it's just how the law was passed ... law enforcement cannot take part in any of those discussions.

“I don't think it's OK to have literally every other county employee, except constitutional officers ... not be allowed to talk about their own careers, their own lives, how they are paid, what their benefits look like, what their retirement looks like, that's not OK. And that's not respectful to law enforcement to me," Randall said.

Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R): “Would a new study make a difference or does the sheriff's existing study answer our questions? Given that the sheriff has over 87% satisfaction, why change something that's not broken? But in the end, this motion really is about who controls the reins of power. That's really what this is about.”

Ashburn Supervisor Mike Turner (D): “The intent is to preemptively look at these things in a serious way and have the hard discussion — as painful as they probably will be — and get some analysis and some cost-based analysis. Then when all that discussion is done, let's put it to the people and let the people decide what they want to do.”

Algonkian Supervisor Juli Briskman (D): “It is beyond time to review our local governmental operations, and it is beyond time take partisan politics out of one of the largest departments that operates with your hard-earned tax dollars. To say that this is a move to inject politics into our county systems is a red herring, and it is false. Having a top law enforcement officer who must campaign and raise money for a campaign by calling donors is exactly what [currently] makes this a political position.”

Leesburg Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D): “I think that at this time of massive instability, governmental instability, social instability, we need to be stable in Loudoun County. This is not an action that will increase stability, it's going to decrease stability, and I worry very much about destabilizing government, even though there's a process.”

Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington (R): “I did not print every email, but if I stack them up, it's going to be very lopsided and very one-sided on the side of not doing this. And so, I feel to vote in favor of this is absolutely against the constituents of my district, the Blue Ridge district ... "

Public commenters

David Simpson, mayor of Hamilton: “The truth of the matter is that I think, for the long term, the police department is the way to go.”

Joshua Lowder, deputy with the sheriff’s office: “Given the inherent if not obvious complexities that lie at the heart of such a proposal for revolutionary change, any move to expedite such a decision is ... deceptive and manipulative. Chair, the way you submitted this agenda item is deeply concerning.”

Maria Stanton, member of the Loudoun County Republican Women's Club: “I'm not one to say that if something's not broke, we don't fix it, but at this time it isn't necessary to spend the money on [a study].” Stanton noted the financial uncertainties that have come along with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Victoria Whelan: "[The sheriff] works for us, not the Board of Supervisors.”

(32) comments

Mints

This is only for two reasons.

1) Take power away from the people on how law enforcement is performed in Loudoun County and put it all in the hands of the council on what exactly gets enforced.

2) Let's face it, Democrats #1 priority is how much money they can get from you. What better way then to create a police force that will have the sole purpose of minor traffic issues to create an additional revenue stream for the county. This is how FFX County, PWC both work. Cops lined up every 1.5 miles just waiting for those traffic tickets and court fees to be paid.

And just a question, but in the age of defund the police and let lawlessness reign, why is Democrat Randall so keen on spinning up a police force? Yea.....

LC

I saw an article that the DC Mayor made an ordinance that required everyone in DC to wear a mask, EXCEPT city officials and law makers (which would of course make her exempt as well). Looks like she is taking a lesson on how to establish double standards and be oppressive from Chair Randall and those who voted against preserving the current system of the people electing the County Sheriff. NO to tyranny. NO to one standard for County officials with a different standard for the County residents. This is why the PEOPLE elect the Sheriff. The Sheriff works for the PEOPLE not a County B. of Supervisors. The members of the County B. of Supervisors, which seem to be bad actors - - some of which clearly want to forget this, work for the PEOPLE (not communist campaign donors) as well.

LC

So let's be clear -- Chair Randall and many other Loudoun County Board of Supervisors refused to pass a motion that supported and protected the 2nd Amendment locally in Decemenber and January - following an attack by many other northern VA state legislators on law-abiding citizens' 2nd Amendment rights. So not only do Supervisor Turner, Randall, and Saines want to cower at the opportunity to to protect our Constitutional right to safeguard life and property they want to do that while increasing their power over the County police. And they expect us to trust Turner, Randall, and Saines ? No way!

LC

A question to ponder -- is there any affiliation or funds transfer that occurred between any communist organizations and the 1199SEIU New York State Political Action Fund...I don't know.

LC

Time for a new Chair of Loudoun County -- how about one of the Supervisors who actually cares about the residents of this County. Not one who has been bought off by outside organizations and anti-American actors -- which clearly seems to be the case with Chair Randall, Supervisor Turner, and Vice-Chair Saines.

NativeLoudouner

The Three Musketeers are at it again. You have the LTM and/or Nathan Cline, Chair Randall, and Michelle Thomas NAACP all working together to destroy our County. They go after the monument, then Randall makes a power grab for the Sheriff's Department because her bestie Thomas is not happy with the investigation. Lets not forget the march through Leesburg on the BLM, with Randall arm in arm with everyone during the COVID 6 ft ruling, only to be followed up with her pushing black face Northam to hold Loudoun back in Phase II, while all business struggle to hang on. Now you have Cline/LTM writing pieces only the "black businesses struggling" and another piece where Thomas/NAACP is shouting to the roof tops about a deputy incident against a black guy to help Randall with her power grab. Now Randall is wasting more money our County could use to help Loudoun Citizens during these hard times to do a study we certainly don't need or want. Randall has stacked the deck with the BOS allies and push her personal agenda thru no problem. Randall is poison to our County and not representing Loudoun in any way, shape or form.

LC

I thought the point of serving in a public office was to serve the PEOPLE, not to be given money by some out of state Political Action group and then work to harm the very people and Community you are sworn to selflessly serve.

LC

Pretty messed up Supervisor Randall, Chair Randall, Vice-Chair Saines -- it looks like you are taking money from an out of state Political Fund, New York of all places. Now they want you to change the County's system of the people electing the Sheriff with what seems like the intent of weakening and harming our Community. I think there is a word for that. Sounds like icky money. New York has outstanding residents. However, New York (and it's Political Action Groups) of all places is not a state government, or the NYC local government for that matter, is not one to be emulated. How about you listen to your Constituents on this issue?? And not some out of state political action group who appears to want to manipulate you to hurt our Community.

Loudoun4Trump

Let me guess.....they will be changing to a totalitarian form of government....no police, no school, no services, and a lot of love for looting, shooting, killing, and rioting.....

Jaws

Check the state board of elections under "out of state donors". 1199SEIU New York State Political Action Fund donated quite a bit of money to our leaders in Loudoun. If you research that group you will find they want transparency in police. Not sure if Ms Randall made a promise to this group to make this change. Not sure why a NY group was spending so much money here in Virginia. The person authorizing those funds is Gabrielle Seaye and if you search that group and what they are about it tells you why Mrs Randall is looking to change Loudoun.

LC

Just wondering if Senator Boysko at the state level asked Supervisor Turner, Chair Randall, and Vice-Chair Saines to enter this horrible motion ?? Or was it a donor ? VA State Senator Boysko along with S. Turner, C. Randall, and VC-Saines is another person who needs to be voted out of office.

LC

No to TYRANNY.

LC

Here is an link that demonstrates the circumstance that can result from the type of police system that Supervisor Turner, Chair Randall, and Vice-Chair Saines are in support of and want to bring to Loudoun County - where the City Officials appoint the Police Commissioner instead of the people --

[https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-chicago-homicides-data-tracker-htmlstory.html#nt=barker-chain].

LC

Strong point made by BobOhneiserEsq. Supervisor Turner, Chair Randall, Vice-Chair Randall this sort of total DISREGARD for YOUR Constituents is absolutely unacceptable. We like our County the way it is. We don't select power-mongering Board of Supervisors like the three of you to harm our Community. Again the question still remains, why would you as members of the Board of Supervisors need to be in charge of law enforcement in the County ? Need is not the correct word. Want is more accurate. You work for the People and Residents of this County not yourselves, donors, or some other outside group. Perhaps you need to be reminded of that if you forgot.

BobOhneiserEsq

Here is a question for the study: Why doesn't the current form of government REQUIRE publishing the list of top ten priorities of the BOS and what is being done to improve such identified problems?

If it is really a thorough study maybe it could also include why would a BOS not question the failure of the school board to meet its' state statute 22.1-79 requirement to manage with the utmost efficiency as it currently and apparently plans to spend $1.4 billion knowing many of those being paid will have nothing to do for at least 7 months? Will duties and responsibilities be part of this study? Hope so :-)

Reagan warrior

Supervisor Turner is my Supervisor. I don’t like what he has done so far on this issue. He thinks he is doing what the Democrats want him to do not what the citizens what him to do. He might be out the next election cycle along with Randall.

ChocolateDinosaur

Somebody had a very exciting half an hour all to themselves with this story last night. [lol]

LC

Stop with the power grab ! You are on the Board of Supervisors to work for the people, not YOURSELVES Supervisor Turner, Chair Randall.

LC

We need an entire Board of Supervisors who supports our duly elected Sheriff. Why would any Supervisor be opposed to the power lying with the people ?? Why would that be?? Makes you think...Hmmm. Maybe they have ulterior motives or someone or some group is putting them up to it...perhaps ??

LC

Stop with the overreach Supervisor Turner, Chair Randall, Vice-Chair Saines, and the others who were even considering changing the current system where the people elect the Sheriff ! The Loudoun County Board of Supervisor actions should beneficial, not a detriment to our Community. Clearly Supervisor Turner, Chair Randall, and Vice-Chair Saines are not representing their Constitutents well.

LoudounClear

Power lies with the party that elects the sheriff. That cuts out roughly 50% of "the people" right there, no matter which party is in power. Right now, those saying "don't fix what ain't broken" are all, not surprisingly, the same voices that champion and echo GOP talking points at every turn. #whoseOx?

LC

To echo an earlier comment ---- "Yet the Chairwoman feels we need a new government and law enforcement? There is no reason to upset the apple cart when the status quo [current system] is working just fine." Concur.

LC

We don't need tyrants at the County level !

LC

Time for Chair Randall and Supervisor Turner be elected out of office ! They clearly are not acting in the interest of Loudoun County residents. $20 million of tax payer dollars spent so that the County Board of Supervisors can have more control over the law enforcement. Ludicrous ! Absolutely no reason to change this. A big thank-you to the Board of Supervisors who are actually doing their job and supporting Loudoun County residents.

AshburnRez

The only change Loudoun County government should have is getting Phyllis Randall out of office. This motion only serves to benefit her and the other Democrats in power, not the citizens of Loudoun County. This PD will be nothing more than a scarecrow for the BOS enforcing only laws they see fit. Kudos to Kristen Umstattd for being the lone Democrat to put the taxpayers over her own political gain.

John M

Slowly but surely, this BOS wants to take away all the decisions that are made by the people and put it in their own hands. There are only a couple of reasons why this group wants to expand their reach: 1. Control. The BOS, specifically, Phyliss Randall, cannot stand the fact that the Sheriff is elected by the people and not someone she/they can appoint and control. 2. If they gain control, they can appoint a friend or puppet Chief of Police that will do anything they want them to do- including not arresting people for certain crimes. We the people must make sure we keep our right to decide who is the head law enforcement officer in this county or we must rid ourselves of this group of "supervisors".

LoudounPulse

Why does the Loudoun Government need an overhaul in the first place? There is next to zero corruption in Government. Almost zero abuse by LCSO of their power. We have a wonderful and prosperous county. Yet the Chairwoman feels we need a new government and law enforcement? There is no reason to upset the apple cart when the status quo is working just fine.

ChocolateDinosaur

I am not educated enough on this to have a valid opinion. I need to continue to read, learn, and like the Sheriff, await further data from studies. This article is a good place to start with the commentary inclusion. Thanks.

David Dickinson

Phyllis Randall's comments clearly shows she wants to unionize a police force. Here we see the Democrats' concerted efforts to end right-to-work in Virginia and give political kick-backs to the union thugs that support the Democrats.

applicant45554

Spot on. I think that’s exactly what’s happening

darth

This publication "Virginia Government in Brief" has excellent information about the various forms that county governments can take in Virginia. https://publications.virginiageneralassembly.gov/download_publication/119

Voltaire

Darth--Thank you for the link. I agree that this publication had excellent information about Virginia Government and was quite informative.

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