Loudoun County Board of Supervisors shifts from policing change to overall government review

Instead of looking just at policing changes, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is set to consider a motion that would launch a complete review of the Virginia county’s government structure.

Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, who proposed the idea of putting the question of creating a police department to a voter referendum in November, made the announcement about the change in focus during Tuesday’s board meeting.

Randall said she received a mix of responses about the policing proposal but found broader consensus on one particular matter.

In a newsletter to constituents, Randall said that “roughly 80% of people said they prefer to have more information on cost.”

“At some point when your constituents who agree with it and your constituents who don’t agree with it all say, ‘We want to see numbers,’ you listen to that,” Randall said.

Loudoun County Supervisor Mike Turner, who represents the Ashburn District, has been directly involved in the process of putting a motion forward to review the entire county government.

Turner said the creation of a police department allows county leaders to address any future issues.
“These events can happen very fast, be very precipitous, that requires action and authority that we simply don’t have right now,” Turner told WTOP.
While praising the Sheriff’s department for low crime, Turner said the only current way to reform law enforcement in the event of a situation such as the death of George Floyd is for voters to elect a new sheriff.
“God forbid that should happen, but if it did, we would have absolutely no recourse for years,” Turner said.

“The only qualifications to be elected sheriff is to be 18 years old, have a high school diploma and live in Loudoun County,” Turner said. “I think, in a county of 400,000 that’s very diverse, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Fellow Supervisor Matt Letourneau took to his public Facebook page to praise the announcement made by Randall.

“This is consistent with the approach that I have been advocating for,” reads part of Letourneau’s social media statement. “And will allow for the Board to get the facts about all of our options, and also understand the financial implications of making changes. It will allow time for public discussion, and for input from stakeholders.

Randall said the county administrator informed her that a full government review could take up to two years to complete.

Before the switch in plans, Randall predicted any establishment of a county police department would take at least two years and wanted it to begin operating in 2024. That’s the same year current Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman’s term ends.

The motion to launch a review of Loudoun County’s government system is set to be presented at the Board’s next business meeting on July 21.
Editor’s note: This story was first published on July 15, 2020. It has been updated with comments from Loudoun County Supervisor Mike Turner.

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