Loudoun Supervisors to Vote on Police Department Referendum

County supervisors may take the first formal step toward a Loudoun County Police Department on July 21.

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said she will ask for a vote on whether to put the idea to a voter referendum, the first step in the process of starting a county police department. If that that passes and voters go on to approve a new police department, it would not begin until 2024 after current Sheriff Michael L. Chapman’s term expires.

“That is really important to me, because it’s not about any one person,” Randall said. “And Sheriff Chapman was just elected, he was duly elected, and I do not believe we should try to take the elected sheriff out of this position while his term is in office.”

Chapman, a Republican, won re-election over a Democratic challenger in 2019, and began his third four-year term this year. If a county police department is created it would assume primary law enforcement duties, while the elected sheriff would retain control over the jail, court security and civil process.

Randall has long talked about starting a police department in Loudoun, arguing it would allow for increased oversight and transparency of law enforcement, and pointing out that Loudoun is the largest county by far in the commonwealth without a police department. Chapman has resisted the idea, along with other ideas aimed at oversight or integrating his office with the county administration, such as a civilian review board or combined 911 dispatch. He has argued in the past that his office is more accountable to citizens because he is an elected official.

Randall said good things have happened under Chapman’s leadership, “but he’s not going to be sheriff all the time, and we take a risk—there’s always a risk that somebody could be elected who maybe shouldn’t be in that position.”

Randall stressed she does not wish to abolish or defund law enforcement in Loudoun.

“I think the worst possible thing is this becomes about Phyllis Randall and Mike Chapman, because this is not about Phyllis Randall and Mike Chapman,” Randall said. “This is about a county of 413,000 people, and what now should happen.”

Even with a police department, the county would still have a sheriff. As a constitutional office, the state mandates the county elect a sheriff, and the office could only be dispensed with if supervisors and voters decide to change the county’s form of government. In other counties with both, the police department handles law enforcement, while the sheriff’s office is responsible for the courts, jail and civil process.

A chief of Police would be hired under the County Administrator, akin to other heads of Loudoun public safety agencies like the fire-rescue chief.

If Loudoun decides to hand primary law enforcement duties to a police department, it will be the first Virginia county to do so since 1995. That was the year Prince George County, east of Petersburg, officially separated the police department from the sheriff’s office.

There are currently only nine county police departments in Virginia. Of the six most-populous counties in Virginia, Loudoun is the only one without a police department; the next-largest county after Loudoun with a sheriff’s office in charge of law enforcement is Stafford County, with a population of around 150,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Loudoun’s rapidly growing population is more than twice that, estimated around 413,000 as of 2019.

Loudoun also has the largest sheriff’s office in the state.

If supervisors vote with Randall to ask for a referendum, that request will go to the Circuit Court to be placed on a ballot.

Loudoun Now has reached out to Chapman for comment.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

29 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors to Vote on Police Department Referendum

  • 2020-07-10 at 3:05 pm
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    This is all about power, the dems want a puppet as a Police Chief. I think law enforcement should not be controlled by the county, it’s a total conflict. Let the voters decide who is the Sheriff and in charge of LE in the county. Out Sheriff’s Office does an outstanding job.

  • 2020-07-10 at 3:25 pm
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    Randall said good things have happened under Chapman’s leadership, “but he’s not going to be sheriff all the time, and we take a risk—there’s always a risk that somebody could be elected who maybe shouldn’t be in that position.”

    The lack of self-awareness is palpable.

    Phyllis believes the People of Loudoun are too stupid to decide who our law enforcement is. Phyllis and her band of travelers want to disenfranchise your voting rights so they can assume total control. Don’t fall for any establishment hack trying to take away your rights.

  • 2020-07-10 at 4:03 pm
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    So Randall wants the police chief directly reportIng to her and the board instead of them being independent of the political process. Just like the NYC mayor – telling police what laws to enforce and what laws not to enforce, she wants to politicize our law enforcement.

    Remember every city that has problem police departments – Minneapolis, Baltimore, NYC … all have police departments reporting directly to politicians. So the idea that this will improve our law enforcement is a total farce. There is no legitimate reason to change what is already working well.

    So just another power grab to inject politics into everything.

  • 2020-07-10 at 4:33 pm
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    this will be such a great upgrade for Loudoun County. We need a police chief who is supervised, not a sheriff who thinks that he has carte blanche and doesn’t even welcome any oversight whatsoever. He recently said that he investigates all complaints himself and thus does not need anyone looking at the department. NO. he does not get to be the sole judge and jury. He can still be sheriff, but we need a chief of police responsible to the BOS for the duties performed by a police chief.

    • 2020-07-10 at 7:29 pm
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      So in other words you are calling the voters of Loudoun County incompetent and saying they are incapable of providing oversight to an ELECTED official? Any appointed position responsible to an elected official is going to be beholden to that official, not to the voters.

      • 2020-07-11 at 3:27 pm
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        LOL! Are you saying that the voters aren’t capable of exercising their will with multiple elected officials watching over the law enforcement in Loudoun and are instead, better off exercising their will over a single elected official? Your MAGA hat is on too tight if you think there is ANY kind of logic in that. If the voters don’t get the kind of police force they expect, you can bet they’ll turn the responsible party out on their ear. But let’s be honest, this is really about republicans being opposed to a democrat BoS and nothing to do with voters holding officials accountable. The same people elected Chapman and Randall. Do you see how stupid your argument is? It doesn’t matter which elected official(s) manage the police. It matters which elected official(s) are more concerned about continuing cop culture versus bringing it to heel. And my money is on the BoS doing a better job at that than a career cop, dontcha think?

        • 2020-07-11 at 7:19 pm
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          Bully, I wouldn’t trust Phyllis and her comrades to put gas in my truck, much less with anything to do with my law enforcement.

          Funny how one of the items on the democrat agenda for their civil rights elimination “special session” in August is to reduce funding for local law enforcement. You think this is all a coincidence? They also want to reduce assault on an officer down to a misdemeanor. That’s declaring open season on law enforcement.

          “Cop culture?” Next time you need real help, real fast TB, call a meth head.

          • 2020-07-19 at 2:46 pm
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            So a duly elected is less responsible to the people than to an oligarchy that was voted by the people? By chapman has been very transparent to the constituents and abides by Virginia laws. You think and appointed police would do better? Pray tell how so? By this reasoning we ought To have the BoS appointed as well

        • 2020-07-19 at 2:45 pm
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          So a duly elected is less responsible to the people than to an oligarchy that was voted by the people? By chapman has been very transparent to the constituents and abides by Virginia laws. You think and appointed police would do better? Pray tell how so? By this reasoning we ought To have the BoS appointed as well

    • 2020-07-19 at 2:49 pm
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      I guess you haven’t been to any of his town hall meeting. And wait til Randall comes up with ways to use the police against you since they’ll only be accountable to her and not to us

  • 2020-07-10 at 5:16 pm
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    Always refreshing to see an “activist” pushing to disenfranchise and steal the People’s control away from voters and into the hands of petty politicians.

    Tell us ‘activist,’ who is smarter on the board than the people at large?

  • 2020-07-10 at 6:56 pm
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    Loudoun County has An A+ rating as one of the safest counties in the United States and a tax raiser in the middle of a pandemic thinks we need another layer of overhead because she can do better than Chapman, fiddlesticks!

  • 2020-07-10 at 7:12 pm
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    We have a Sheriff who is doing a great job and Randall wants to replace him, if he was democrat she would leave him alone. The majority of the finding for a Sheriff’s Department comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia whereas the majority of the funding for a police department would come from the County of Loudoun. The coronavirus has done financially damage to the County and Randall wants to spend more this is fiscally irresponsible. Shame on Phyllis for her putting her own interests first not the taxpayers she was elected to serve. The taxpayers need a referendum to remove her not start a Police Department.

  • 2020-07-10 at 7:55 pm
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    Are you kidding? By what measures does the current Sheriff NEED “oversight”? For what? That department has AWARDS for how well it serves the community. This is nothing but a naked power grab by the BOS.

  • 2020-07-10 at 8:04 pm
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    The question all citizens should be asking themselves is why is this Board of Supervisors with a communist majority of members; why does the Board of Supervisors NEED a police department? Loudoun County doesn’t have a large number of police brutality cases that require a reduction in force. The fact that other counties, regardless of their populations being bigger or smaller have a county police force, should also not a justification (US TOO!) to allow the Board of Supervisors control over a police force. Chairwoman Randall clearly is upset that Chapman doesn’t answer to her, and she clearly is trying to convince the people that “what happens if someone worse gets in?” Like a bad Chairwoman can be recalled, so can a Sheriff. We have a system of checks and balance, and the BOS needs to be checked.

  • 2020-07-10 at 10:31 pm
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    The Sheriff is directly responsible to the voters. And, he’s doing a great job! So, Randall wants to change that. It’s not broken, so she wants to break it. She wants to put the people’s Sheriff under her thumb. She the one who should resign! The LCPS Board and the current BoS are closing schools and raising taxes. Get rid of those politicians, not the Sheriff’s office that works well.

  • 2020-07-10 at 11:06 pm
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    Politics at its worst. Had Sheriff Chapman not been reelected the Democrats like Randell would not be pushing this effort. A good reporter would ask her about this, of course she would lie because we all know Democrats at every level put control and power ahead of citizens. FACT!

  • 2020-07-11 at 4:53 am
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    Loudoun County has An A+ rating as one of the safest counties in the United States and a tax raiser in the middle of a pandemic thinks we need another layer of overhead because she can do better than Chapman.

  • 2020-07-11 at 9:44 am
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    Awful idea. Police chiefs become beholden to politicians that no nothing about LE. Politicians hire chiefs that will support their political goals. Chiefs are unaccountable to the citizens.

  • 2020-07-11 at 9:54 am
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    “because this is not about Phyllis Randall” Oh, it is about Phyllis Randall because Phyllis is about Phyllis 100% of the time.

    The Sheriff’s Dept. needs to stay. This is all about Democrats perverting law enforcement to do their bidding. We see the chaos and destruction Democrats are reaping across the country and now Phyllis wants this brand of radicalism to be local. Loudoun needs and Sheriff ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE. Democrats needs to stop trying to disenfranchise voters.

    Further, recall several years ago when sitting Supervisor Shawn Williams was arrested. Do you really think a sitting supervisor would be arrested by a police dept. that reports to the Board of Supervisors? A Sheriff can keep the supervisors in check because s/he is independent from them. A police chief is a BoS lackey that needs to do the bidding of the Board.

    Further, there are politically connected people in Leesburg that I believe should have been arrested and haven’t been. A certain downtown owner was a long-time and well known drug dealer. I firmly believe he wasn’t arrested because the police dept. turned a political blind eye towards him.

  • 2020-07-11 at 10:34 am
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    I would like a referendum to remove Randall from office.

  • 2020-07-11 at 12:11 pm
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    “The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins/ remorse from power” (Julius Caesar, II.i.l18-19)
    Brutus said that when Ceasar took power he would use it for his own benefit rather than for the Romans’.
    Chairwomen Randall, like Caesar, is trying to use her office for her own benefit by attempting to usurp the LCSO into her own private police force.
    There are a multitude of other important issues for the BOS to concentrate on. To contemplate a hugely expensive and unneeded change like this is irresponsible.

  • 2020-07-11 at 2:49 pm
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    Chairman Chapman has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it.

  • 2020-07-12 at 9:02 am
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    35% of the sheriffs budget or 35 million dollars is what we lose just from the state if we switch to a policeforce. Overtaxed is correct the referendum should be can we replace Randall with Chapman?

  • 2020-07-12 at 10:58 pm
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    As a police officer with over sixteen and a half years serving in Loudoun County, I am writing to voice my opposition to the formation of a Loudoun County Police Department. The current morale of policing in this country is now at an all-time low. If the morale and state of police officers after Ferguson was low, it has sunk to new depths now. The push to create yet another police department in Loudoun County is ludicrous.

    NOT including the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department the residents of Loudoun County are currently served by no less than SEVEN local police departments with jurisdiction in the county:
    – Virginia State Police
    – Purcellville Police Department
    – Middleburg Police Department
    – Leesburg Police Department
    – Northern Virginia Community College Police Department
    – Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Police Department
    – Metro Transit Police Department

    When Federal agencies are added into the mix the following police agencies also have jurisdiction and offices in Loudoun County:
    – Mount Weather Police Department
    – US Customs and Border Patrol
    – US Postal Police
    – Drug Enforcement Agency
    – US Air Marshals
    – Department of Homeland Security

    This brings the total number of law enforcement agencies to FOURTEEN when considering the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department. The current cry from the media and activists is that citizens are “over-policed.” To add a FIFTEENTH police agency to Loudoun County is a politically motivated and rash decision that serves no one but the board of supervisors.

    The expense of converting deputies, facilities, cars, uniforms, equipment, drafting policies, creating general orders, repurposing dispatch facilities, additional court resources and changes, memorandums of understanding, interagency cooperation agreements, and a slew of other unnamed changes will cost the citizens of this county tens of millions of dollars.

    In the ensuing chaos during the conversion to a new law enforcement agency, the remaining local and state agencies that are already stretched thin will be completely overwhelmed. Add to this the imminent introduction of crime that will flow into this county from the Metro and the ensuing negative impacts on public safety will be felt for years to come.

    The continuous negative media coverage that has painted the entire law enforcement community with a broad brush as racist killers of minorities for the actions of an infinitesimal few criminals that have infiltrated the ranks has had serious impacts on the profession. Even before Ferguson, police agencies have not been able to recruit enough replacements for members retiring or leaving. The local Loudoun agencies are no less affected and are having trouble finding, training, and retaining new police officers. Current police officers are abandoning proactive policing for fear of being the next media target. Add to this the possibility of contracting COVID 19 from interaction with the public and now what you have are police officers who only respond to calls when necessary.

    When I applied to become a law enforcement officer in 2003 I was in a pool of nearly 2,000 applicants for a class of 90 candidates. Today this same agency cannot even fill classes with 50 cadets, let alone graduate that many. If the board of supervisors thinks that people are lining up to become police officers they are sorely mistaken. Attrition and retirements are decimating the law enforcement ranks and some are leaving simply because they no longer wish to be associated with a career that has become so widely reviled.

    The creation of a FIFTEENTH police department for Loudoun County by people who have no idea about what law enforcement is really like will provide no additional coverage benefits, no additional safety, will add millions of dollars of annual cost, and will not achieve any goal that benefits the citizens of this county.

    It would appear that the Board of Supervisors has not even consulted rank and file police officers to hear what they have to say about this proposal. In the end the tax payers will be the ones who foot the bill and whose safety is put at risk.

    As a member of one of the existing fourteen law enforcement agencies in this county, I beseech the Board of Supervisor Members to vote against this measure.

    • 2020-07-13 at 11:48 am
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      Phyllis Randall and the other Loudoun Democrats want to decimate law enforcement in Loudoun County and not improve it. All your facts are correct and the change will harm Loudoun….which is exactly what Randall and the Democrats of destruction want to do.

  • 2020-07-14 at 4:54 am
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    Let us create an unnecessary law enforcement organization, complete with redundant administrative costs, and then reduce funding to actually protect Loudouner’s and enforce the laws?
    Yup.
    Sounds EXACTLY what the (D)s (think Buffington and Leternou) on the BoS would think is a good idea.

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