Gregory C. Brown was sworn in as Leesburg’s first black chief at a ceremony this afternoon.
Brown enters the post after working for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office for the past 19 years, most recently as a captain and commander of the Eastern Loudoun Station.
At the swearing-in ceremony, held at Tally Ho Theatre in downtown, speakers went on about the extensive, nationwide search that ensued to find the town’s fifth chief of police after Joseph Price announced he would retire in March after 16 years leading the department. The town received 88 applications, led four rounds of interviews, and the Town Council, as well as a citizens’ panel, scrutinized the finalists.
“We have looked far and wide only to learn he was in our backyard all along,” Town Manager Kaj Dentler said.
He added, “I have been impressed with your professionalism, your leadership skills, your dedication to public service to the entire community—to everyone in our community.”
Brown is now the highest ranking minority in the town’s government. His appointment comes at a time of increased racial tensions nationwide and follows a push by the Town Council to pursue diversity in the town’s hiring practices.
After he took the oath of office in front of a crowd of friends, family and community leaders, Brown acknowledged that law enforcement has faced recent challenges with community trust, transparency, technology, recruitment and retention, and “challenges with serving an increasingly diverse population.”
It’s caused public safety agencies to revert back to some of the basics of community policing, he added, such as outreach, education, awareness, prevention, intervention, treatment and referral, “and fair and impartial policing when appropriate.”
“Those strategies will help maintain trust in the communities we have sworn to protect and serve,” he said. “It will maintain the reason why the Town of Leesburg is one of the most desirable places to live in Northern Virginia.”
He called Leesburg Police Department’s sworn workforce “peace officers,” a term he said he does not use lightly. “We, as your peace officers, must remain approachable, professional, friendly and fair, but firm in our approach when serving and protecting the public.”
He thanked God, his wife, Laura, and his two sons, as well as Dentler and town council members.
“I’m excited—very excited,” he said. “I’m ready to get to work, and looking forward to working with all of you.”
In his comments, Mayor Dave Butler also stressed the importance of bridging the gap between law enforcement and community members. He said it may be normal for residents to not always trust their Town Council members. “But if they don’t trust the police, then you’ve got a problem.”
He said Brown has the experience and work ethic to maintain that trust, lead a diverse group of officers and be an “on-the-street ambassador for everyone in the town.”
Major Vanessa Grigsby has served as the town’s interim police chief since Price retired in March. Brown’s first day on the job is Monday.