As your elected Sheriff, I want to assure you that every citizen has a voice in Loudoun County.
As the nation reflects on the tragedy in Minneapolis, our sincere condolences go out to George Floyd’s family, friends and loved ones. The actions of the officers with the Minneapolis Police Department surrounding the death of George Floyd were reprehensible and criminal, but in no way reflect our agency or our deputies. As a result of this tragedy, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous questions regarding our operations and training.
I have joined law enforcement leaders on the national and statewide level with the Major County Sheriffs’ of America and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, calling for the accountability of all of the officers involved.
Since taking office in 2012, I have taken great efforts to build trust with all members of our community. That trust has created mutual respect and is likely why Loudoun County has remained one of the safest counties in the Washington, DC area.
This mutual respect was reflected in a 2018 Loudoun County Citizen Survey which reported that close to 90% of Loudoun County residents are satisfied with the services provided by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), and over 95% feel their neighborhood is safe.
As discussion of implementing citizen review boards has become more prevalent following this tragedy, it is important to note the difference between police chiefs and constitutionally elected sheriffs. Police chiefs are appointed by and report directly to elected mayors, county executives, and/or city, county, or town councils/supervisors. In some areas, citizen review boards have been established so that citizens, who normally do not have direct input into police operations or behaviors, can do so in concert with their elected officials.
Sheriffs, similar to mayors and board of supervisors, are elected by and report directly to the citizens they serve. In Loudoun, that number for me is over 400,000. Unlike many surrounding counties in which a separate avenue for communications may be helpful – or even necessary, Loudoun is unique in that every citizen has a voice in the way the LCSO operates. As a Sheriff’s Office, the system greatly facilitates dialog, trust, outreach, and education between citizens and the Sheriff. There is no middleman. This system creates sincere partnerships and is likely the reason Loudoun has succeeded in maintaining such a low crime rate and high citizen satisfaction.
Another reason for this success is that the LCSO initiates the fostering of community relationships at elementary ages and provides opportunities for all of Loudoun’s citizens, regardless of age. Our positive relationships begin with our youth during our Annual Child Safety Day, Dulles South Public Safety Day, and the McGruff Safety Camps that are held each summer. This outreach continues through our D.A.R.E. program in both elementary and middle schools, in addition to our nationally recognized “model” School Resource Officer program. It is further enhanced through quarterly Station community meetings, a biannual Citizens’ Police Academy, public service announcements and videos, and a robust and proactive community policing program.
We are considered a premier agency in de-escalation training, utilizing technology for the safety of our residents and deputies, and recognized as a model agency in the Commonwealth of Virginia after we received our reaccreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission in 2017. The LCSO has been, and continues to be a leader in de-escalation techniques, and our Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program has been recognized both regionally and nationally as a model for ensuring that all of our residents are treated with compassion and respect. Our deputies also receive extensive training in Fair and Impartial Policing, Implicit Bias & Policing in a Diverse Environment, Unconscious Bias, Racial Ethnic and Disparity, Cultural Diversity, Cultural Diversity in the School Setting, Understanding Conflict, Conflict Resolution, and Decision Making, just to name a few.
To maintain the success we have experienced over the past nine years, we continuously solicit your input and value your concerns. Every complaint, concern or compliment is sent directly to me and my undersheriff. While the compliments received by our agency far outweigh our service complaints (more than a 4:1 ratio), many residents question how we investigate concerns within the agency.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office investigates any physical encounter involving our sworn personnel, even if slight, whether a complaint is received or not. Supervisors are required to evaluate a deputy’s use of force, and whether it was a reasonable and restrained response to the circumstances encountered. A use of force incident is documented and reviewed by the members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office leadership and executive teams. We are proud to report that over the past nine years, we have had only two incidents of excessive force. In one incident, the deputy was terminated. In the other, the deputy resigned in lieu of termination.
With your support and input, we will continue to strive to be a premier law enforcement organization, and will continue to pursue our Step Up mission I began almost nine years ago – a mission that constantly strives to improve service, technology, efficiency and professionalism. For more information regarding our programs, please visit here.