Next week’s Leesburg Town Council agenda packet sheds light on some of the individuals who will help to determine whether the county seat should create an advisory commission for its police department.
The council has for the past year considered whether some form of a civilian oversight committee or advisory commission would prove beneficial to both the Leesburg Police Department and the town as a whole. Many localities nationwide have started to more deeply scrutinize their police departments, their policies and procedures in the wake of a renewed focus on racial injustice and instances of police brutality.
In some cases, those have led to the creation of oversight boards that can make disciplinary recommendations. In Virginia, however, new legislation only permits cities and counties, not towns, to create such bodies.
Absent that option, Leesburg leaders are undertaking a study, in the form of a resident-led task force, to determine whether an advisory commission—something the Town Council does have the ability to create—would serve the town’s needs. All seven members of the council, including both those for and against the task force’s creation, have heaped praise on the department for its reputation in the community and the region, and the leadership of Police Chief Gregory Brown. But, proponents said, the task force and a potential advisory commission could prove beneficial in engaging the community and educating residents on police policies and procedures.
Each council member is asked to appoint one town resident to serve on the task force, and appointees with law enforcement or a legal background are desired. Four council members thus far have submitted their nominees for consideration.
Mayor Kelly Burk has nominated Paul Gomez, who retired from the FBI last year after 16 years of service.
Amy Harber has been nominated by Councilman Ara Bagdasarian. An attorney, Harber served as a prosecutor for 12 years, with the past eight years in Loudoun County. She is currently employed as a senior attorney with an insurance company, according to a staff report.
Councilwoman Suzanne Fox has nominated Pat Daly, an officer with the Leesburg Police Department for 20 years. Daly retired as a lieutenant in 2019.
Finally, Councilwoman Kari Nacy also has nominated a former police officer. Frank Holtz retired from the U.S. Capitol Police in 2010 after 25 years of service. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 26 years.
The four nominees are scheduled be voted on by the full council at its Aug. 10. Vice Mayor Marty Martinez and council members Zach Cummings and Neil Steinberg are also expected to offer nominees at a future meeting.