Republican candidate for Loudoun’s Chairman At Large, John Whitbeck, and Sheriff Mike Chapman have called to put deputies in every Loudoun elementary school.
Currently, the Sheriff’s Office assigns specialized deputies, school resource officers, to every Loudoun middle school and high school, except Leesburg schools, which are staffed by the Leesburg Police Department.
Loudoun’s School Resource Office program began in 1996 with one deputy serving three high schools. Last year, the program received the National Association of School Resource Officers Model Agency of the Year Award.
“We’re fortunate to have one of the best SRO programs in the nation thanks to the great work of Sheriff Chapman and his outstanding team,” Whitbeck stated. “Now it’s time to complete the program by expanding it to all of our elementary schools.”
Chapman, who announced the measure jointly with fellow Republican and challenger to incumbent County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), and referred to it in a press release as “the plan he and Whitbeck will implement,” called the proposal “a non-partisan issue and one that I think we should prioritize immediately.”
“Putting an SRO in every elementary school along with other school safety measures initiated by LCPS, local law enforcement and fire and rescue, will clearly demonstrate that Loudoun intends to have the safest schools in the nation,” Chapman stated.
Chapman said the plan calls for hiring 13 new school resource officers each year for four years, for a total of 58—one for every Loudoun elementary school. He said the program could be funded with $10.5 million in start-up costs and through vacancy savings in the department, as open positions for deputies have gone unfilled. Chapman said he does not expect hiring those officers to impede his ability to hire and fund other necessary positions, and said the sheriff’s office has a lower vacancy rate than the count government as a whole.
According to the press release, the plan would make Loudoun the first major jurisdiction in Virginia to put a school resource officer in every school.
Supervisors will begin this year’s budget deliberations with a presentation of a proposed budget by County Administrator Tim Hemstreet on Wednesday, Feb. 13.