A task force of Leesburg residents will begin its review of Leesburg Police Department policies and procedures next week, and help to determine whether an advisory commission may be of benefit to both the force and the Town Council.
The council voted in July to form the task force after multiple rounds of debate over the past year on what role residents could play in providing a level of oversight or advise to the Police Department. It comes after a year of nationwide racial reckoning in the wake of several high-profile instances of police brutality in other parts of the country. Last fall,legislation signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam created authority for civilian oversight bodies with direct regulatory authority over police agencies—a phenomenon that has become more prevalent throughout the U.S.—but the authority does not extend to towns, only cities and counties. Leesburg does, however, have the ability to form an advisory commission, which will be the primary study of the task force once convened.
The seven-member task force includes the most recent council appointee, Enrique Gonzalez, who is Vice Mayor Marty Martinez’s nominee. Gonzalez retired in 2011 after 40 years’ service with the federal government with both the FBI and CIA. Each member of the task force was required to have experience and/or familiarity with police policies, procedures, law enforcement operations, and/or a legal background. Gonzalez joins a panel that includes another former FBI employee, Paul Gomez (Mayor Kelly Burk’s nominee); attorney Amy Harber (Councilman Ara Bagdasarian); and military veteran Brian Owens (Councilman Zach Cummings). The task force also includes three former police officers—retired U.S. Capitol Police officer Frank Holtz (Councilwoman Kari Nacy) and two former members of the Leesburg Police Department, Clagett “Skeeter” Moxley (Councilman Neil Steinberg) and Pat Daly (Councilwoman Suzanne Fox).The task force’s first meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Leesburg Police Department headquarters on Plaza Street. The task force is expected to return to the Town Council within six months with a final recommendation.