Leaders in Loudoun County, Virginia, are considering a proposal that would ask voters if the county should establish a police department.
Currently, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office handles all law enforcement, but creating a police department would transfer most duties to police and leave the sheriff's office to handle courts and jails.
On her first day as chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Phyllis Randall revisited the decade-old idea to add a police department.
Supervisor Michael Turner will make the proposal this month.
“We are growing so rapidly and we are so diverse now that a sheriff’s model is just not the appropriate model,” Turner said.
Turner says the county should follow the rest of the region in having a police department to handle law enforcement and transition the sheriff’s department to courts and jails.
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman says the board is rushing into the proposal for political reasons.
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“To put this on the last agenda item on the last meeting before their summer break in hopes to try to get it on the November ballot is really an ambush by the chairwoman of the board,” Chapman said.
News4 reached out to Chairwoman Randall for a response, but has not heard back yet.
As the entire country discusses the idea of scaling back law enforcement, Turner says transitioning to a police model would benefit people.
“I think that the entire law enforcement force would fall under a more transparent and equitable human resources system,” Turner said.
While sheriffs are elected officials themselves, Chapman feels having a department answer to the county board politicizes law enforcement.
“Their political agenda would be imposed on the chief. If the chief didn’t particularly do what they wanted, he’d be out of job,” Chapman said.
Supervisor Turner will present the proposal to the board on July 21 and he says he’s confident it will pass. That proposal would ask the courts to add a referendum question to the November ballot.