Letter: Sheriff Michael L. Chapman

Editor: Last week, the International Association of Chiefs of Police delivered its final report to Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors on the potential conversion of the law enforcement functions of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to a police department. 

The report, at a cost of $500,000 to taxpayers, affirmed a study conducted by LCSO in 2020 as well as the results of the 2012 Loudoun Government Reform Commission study—that LCSO is an outstanding agency, that a conversion is unwarranted, and that it would be extraordinarily complex and expensive.

The county board did the right thing, dropping further conversation about a police department and determining not to send the matter to public referendum. The board’s decision signals that accountability is alive and well—the accountability of the elected sheriff directly to the citizens of Loudoun County, and the checks and balances that already exist through the annual county budget process.

I am grateful for the board’s action, and for the outpouring of public support to keep LCSO independent of partisan, bureaucratic oversight.

Most board members acknowledged that Loudoun has one of the best local law enforcement agencies in the nation, but there were a few specious assertions about employee morale. In fact, every independent survey of LCSO has shown consistently high citizen satisfaction as well as employee morale. The IACP itself reported that 89% of LCSO employees surveyed felt valued, and that there is no discrimination in any category assessed—whether by race, color, religion, national origin, age, or sexual orientation. The LCSO vacancy rate recently reached a historic low, and Loudoun has become a magnet for attracting new recruits as well as seasoned professionals from surrounding jurisdictions. We are proud of our growing diversity.

One proposal introduced by IACP and recommended by the board was to pursue Virginia legislation to require minimum qualification standards for the office of sheriff, either throughout the commonwealth or just for Loudoun County.

I agree, and support establishing such standards for Loudoun County.

Loudoun’s population exceeds 400,000 and LCSO is the largest full-service sheriff’s office in Virginia. It makes sense to consider the qualifications and credentials of future candidates for sheriff—ones that speak to experience, leadership, professionalism, and integrity. 

I look forward to engaging all stakeholders in this conversation in the coming months, especially the citizens which LCSO protects and serves every day.

Sheriff Michael L. Chapman

3 thoughts on “Letter: Sheriff Michael L. Chapman

  • 2022-04-14 at 10:34 am

    I agree that transitioning to a county police department would be too costly. But that doesn’t get Sheriff Chapman off the hook. LCSO would benefit greatly from a Citizens Oversight Board. One with teeth & binding disciplinary powers. Please cooperate with such an effort, Sheriff Chapman. It’s the least you can do. Happy Passover Loudoun!

  • 2022-04-14 at 2:01 pm

    I agree with your assertions and also agree we don’t want to be tempted to join places like Portland, Oregon or Chicago or Minneapolis. Shame on the BOS for even attempting such a partisan signaling maneuver while they can’t even seem to come up with a list of objectives/problems they will solve before the end of their term. What I think you should consider is providing a set of committed performance objectives for the current budget and control you enjoy. For example – What is the shooter in a school building response time for a Western Loudoun school? What operational metrics have been put in place to insure that the SRO at a high school participates in a shooter in a school building test under their control as timing will count should we ever have such a challenge. How does the response time for such events compare throughout the county and if not similar why not? Protecting your budget and operational latitude is honorable but citizens do want to know what they can depend on in terms of minutes for response! 🙂

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