Loudoun County has a sheriff’s office. Should it have a police department, too?

Several Virginia counties, including Fairfax and Prince William, have established both sheriff’s offices and police departments, and the leader of Loudoun County hopes the same thing can be done there.

The sheriff, however, is wary of such a plan.

Currently, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, led by Republican Mike Chapman, is the only countywide law enforcement agency. The sheriff is elected every four years, and the office provides all law enforcement services.

But Democrat Phyllis Randall, the newly reelected county Board of Supervisors chair, is repeating her call to create a county police department that would be overseen by the county administration.

In other counties that have both, the police department is the primary law enforcement agency, and the sheriff’s office operates the jail and provides courthouse security.

The Loudoun Times-Mirror reported that more than one sheriff’s deputy had been fired after failing to support Chapman’s reelection for sheriff.

Randall said at a post-election news conference Wednesday, “I just simply don’t believe that law enforcement should be political.”

In response, Chapman is questioning the motivation behind the proposal, the need for a police department and the potential financial impact.

“The citizens need to know exactly what this is all about … taking their right away to select their chief law enforcement officer and basically having an entire bureaucracy between them and the chief law enforcement officer,” Chapman said.

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