Loudoun Sheriff Michael Chapman came to the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night to publicly oppose ongoing work to study whether the county should create a police department, which would sideline the sheriff for most law enforcement duties.
Chapman arrived to personally deliver the quarterly significant incidents report—a task he typically leaves to one of his subordinates—but before getting to that spent several minutes defending his work as sheriff.
“In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, the nation has seen an unparalleled protest and riots, and attacks on the law enforcement profession like never before,” Chapman began. “While there are many instances of bad and even criminal conduct on the part of police officers, the vast, vast majority of the 700,000 law enforcement officers nationwide, representing 18,000 agencies and handling over 60 million citizen contacts every given year, remain committed to this profession, and put their lives on the line daily to protect the citizens that they serve, many they don’t even know.”
Chapman said while other departments have been deputies and police officers leaving, his office ended the year with its lowest vacancy rate ever, and pointed to work such as Crisis Intervention Training for deputies and agency accreditation.
“I raise these concerns because they are important to know, as the county has now committed $500,000 to study a problem that doesn’t exist,” Chapman said.
County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) chastised him for those statements.
“What’s happening right now with the racial reckoning and the equity march is not just because of George Floyd, or one person or two persons, it is because of hundreds of Black people, especially Black men, who have died unjustifiably at the hands of law enforcement,” Randall said. “And there have been riots, and that is not OK, and there have been lootings and that is not okay, but we are not talking about something that the Black community has been dealing with for a couple of months.”
She said “to minimize that is an egregious insult that I will not sit here and pass by.”
Supervisors also pressed Chapman on the lack of diversity in his command staff. Questioned about minority representation at the highest levels in the agency by Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling), Chapman pointed to the lone Black officer of the eight above lieutenant, Major Easton McDonald, and “an executive assistant who’s female.”
Chapman’s attendance at the Board of Supervisors meeting surprised both supervisors and School Board members, who were that night expecting him to attend their meeting to discuss a new agreement on the School Resource Officer program. Instead, that work was derailed when, with Chapman at the Board of Supervisors meeting, the Sheriff’s Office proposed a new version of the policy.