Letter: Dean Griffith, Leesburg

Editor: The Board of Supervisors’ interesting proposition to switch from a sheriff’s office to a police department has a good number of people in the county concerned, and with good reason. Whether or not the implications are understood completely, what seems to be at issue here is control. 

Sheriff Chapman, the now elected official of the department since 2012, has been running the department with very little in the way of complaint from constituents. Loudoun County has the lowest crime rate among Northern Virginia counties, with many of the other counties around us having a county-wide police force instead of a sheriff. Of course, this is an elected position, and in our case, Sheriff Chapman is not a kind of “lame duck” in office, and we don’t seem to be in an alternate reality in which Loudoun is ridden with crime and law enforcement is ineffectual. You don’t hear too much ranting or raving about a bumbling, struggling sheriff. 

On the other hand, with the recent uproar and activism across the country regarding the methods of, or indeed, law enforcement as a whole being at issue, perhaps the Board of Supervisors felt some sort of need to step in with this proposal. Obviously, the board is just as elected to their positions as the sheriff is to his, but that is about where similarities between both of these systems end, aside from the existence of law enforcement in the county. 

The way many people see it, the board and the sheriff are elected to do two very different things, and personnel elected to these positions tend to have very different backgrounds. The Board of Supervisors is a group of elected officials. This is all most people in the county tend to know about them, for better or worse. They make decisions regarding planning, zoning, regulations, et cetera. The sheriff is elected to be the gun-toting, star-shaped-badge-having, law-enforcement-policy-making sheriff. Someone with great background and experience in the world of policing and law enforcement, they are there to keep that apparatus functioning properly, with perhaps decades of experience and training under their belt. This is their specialty. 

So in the eyes of many, it would seem that a group of policy makers is attempting to consolidate a little more power into their group, at the expense of removing entirely the office of an official whose sole purpose, in being elected to that office, is to lead county law enforcement. 

This is just what a guy sees when the issue crops up on a local web article or the paper. People seem to enjoy having a sheriff in charge. It seems to work better in the imagination, lest you will be taking your cattle-rustling problem or highwayman encounter to the local Board of Supervisors.

Dean Griffith, Leesburg Create your own user feedback survey

Leave a Reply