A county police department is on the wish-list for the newly re-elected Loudoun County chairwoman.
Democrat Phyllis Randall, re-elected chair of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, floated the idea during a joint media session with incoming supervisors and members of the School Board.
If Randall can convince the new board -- now dominated by members of her own political party -- to move forward with a police department, the final decision would be made by county voters through a referendum.
“I just simply don’t believe that law enforcement should be political,” Randall said. “I indicated this over the last four years, and it really did not matter who won [the sheriff's] race—I would do that no matter what."
Concerned with deputies' job security -- previous Loudoun deputies have been fired for supporting Sheriff Mike Chapman's political rivals -- and the sheriff’s office's transparency, Randall said it’s time to begin the process of forming a county police department that operates under county administration.
Randall said deputies' jobs shouldn't be at risk depending on their politics and whom they support during elections.
“A sheriff of the county is not 'answer loyal' to anyone except every four years to the citizens. But even then the sheriff can tell the citizens what he wants to tell the citizens—so the citizens only know what the sheriff chooses to tell them. There may be other things that they don’t know,” Randall said.
Fairfax County is an example of a locality that has both a sheriff’s office and a county police department. The police department essentially handles all the law enforcement tasks of a sheriff’s office except for oversight of the county courthouse and jail.
Wednesday morning's media session came after an election that will bring seven new faces to the county School Board and four to the Board of Supervisors starting in January.
Looking ahead to the Board of Supervisors’ goals in the next four years, Randall said she hopes to strengthen the relationship between Loudoun's seven incorporated towns and with the School Board.
Randall said the board will have a “full agenda,” noting the once-a-decade redistricting, expanding school resource officers in elementary schools and amending the county zoning ordinance.
There’s also consensus to revisit firearm regulations and boundaries and supporting state and federal issues, including a statement in support of the federal Equal Rights Amendment.
“I know there are federal issues and state issues, but I am of the belief that almost every federal issue and state issue can impact local politics,” Randall said.
Among the new supervisors will be Democrat Juli Briskman, who is best known for flipping off President Donald Trump’s motorcade while he left his Sterling golf club in 2017. Briskman will replace Republican Supervisor Suzanne Volpe, who was ousted after two terms.
On hand for the news conference, Briskman said she plans to support full funding for the county's schools and finding intelligent ways to develop in Loudoun.
As for her anti-Trump expression two years ago, Briskman said Tuesday’s results were a sign of support from her constituents.
“Yesterday and last night the Algonkian District backed me up on that, and all of Loudoun County actually rejected soundly the Trump agenda ... ,” Briskman said.
Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R-Dulles), who said he would like to continue serving on the board’s finance committee, is one of three Republican supervisors who will sit on the board come January. The outgoing board is made up of six Republicans and three Democrats. The Dulles supervisor will be joined by GOP supervisors Tony Buffington (Blue Ridge), entering his second term, and newcomer Caleb Kershner (Catoctin), who replaced Geary Higgins.
Letourneau, who was first elected in 2011, said Wednesday he's not concerned about the shift in political party control. He said he believes his new colleagues ran for the board to improve the county.
“ ... when you are sitting in a six-hour meeting and dealing with a zoning ordinance, all of those big and national partisan issues that people fight about is the furthest thing from your mind, and I’m very confident the folks that ran for those reasons want to improve the community ... ,” Letourneau said.
Looking ahead, Randall said she was proud to see the diversity in culture, experience and age of both boards, including an increase in women representatives.
In 2015, Sterling Supervisor Koran Saines (D) and Randall were the first two black Loudouners to be elected to the Board of Supervisors. Democrat Sylvia Glass, who was elected Tuesday to represent the Broad Run District on the Board of Supervisors, will serve as the third.
Glass said with Loudoun's demographic changes in the past 20 years it’s important to have diverse representation in elected offices.
"I’m a special education teacher, and so having children see there are people of color on the board that are concerned about the community and want to help, I think that’s a great thing,” Glass said.
Randall added, “This is an incredibly diverse body, both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors—very diverse bodies. I think that’s important because I think that the bodies that serve should reflect the county we serve ... "