Purcellville’s police force could look to work in greater unison with other law enforcement agencies in Loudoun.
During the sixth meeting since its formation by the Town Council last October, the town’s Community Policing Advisory Committee met Monday night to discuss the possibilities of forming a joint police collaboration between Loudoun’s towns, recommending the town hire a mental health professional to field mental health-related 911 calls, and post committee member profiles on the web. Members also discussed attendance issues.
Saint Andrew Presbyterian Pastor David Milam, one of the founding members of the committee, suggested the town police department work with other police departments in Loudoun under a “cooperative sense of policing” with the intent of diversifying the force. Of the other six towns in Loudoun, only Leesburg and Middleburg have police departments.
Milam said he came up with the idea after hearing about a collaborative effort in 2019 in which several Loudoun towns worked together to negotiation new trash collection contracts.
“There could be some real value in just having some kind of shared resources,” he said.
Deputy Police Chief Dave Dailey said that such a joint venture would require much more than a few discussions and deals—the Town Councils would need request the Virginia General Assembly to pass legislation allowing for that to happen.
Dailey also noted that if Hamilton, Hillsboro, Lovettsville and Round Hill sought to form their own police departments, they would most likely need to hike taxes to fund them.
Hearing that, member Payton Arnett asked whether forming a joint police department between multiple towns—such as Purcellville, Hamilton and Lovettsville—could reduce the costs to taxpayers.
“So that way the funding is throughout those three towns,” she said.
Dailey told Milam there’s already cooperation among police agencies across the nation.
“I think a lot of … what you’re envisioning is being done,” he said.
Committee members also discussed the possibility of recommending the town hire a non-law enforcement officer to field mental health-related 911 calls. Dailey said police are onboard with that idea.
“We would welcome and embrace [that],” he said. “I would love to have someone on every shift 24 hours a day.”
Dailey said the implementation could be as easy as finding someone to hire and identifying funding.
The committee Monday night also discussed posting committee member profiles online monthly.
Committee member Elizabeth Ford said those profiles would be good to publish because many people think of “intimidation” when they hear anything police related.
“We want to take that intimidation out and put in that passive ‘welcome home’ feel,” she said.
Committee members also talked about the lack of attendance at meetings. The only committee members physically present on Monday were Chairman Christopher Baltimore, Arnett, Milam and Ford. Vice Mayor Mary Jane Williams, the council liaison to the committee, also was present. Caleb Stought met with the group virtually.
Kirk Balthazar, Larry Simms, Thomas Christie and Leonard Markland were not present.
Committee members resolved to reach out to their colleagues.
Committee meetings have never been at full force. At the previous meeting, only Baltimore, Stought and Milam, who showed up late, were present. That meeting was canceled.
The committee will next meet Oct. 4.