I recently met Mike George, the Democratic contender for Loudoun County Sheriff, at a couple of functions with the Chamber of Commerce, and felt like he would be a good interview subject. The Chamber itself is doing a great job (my previous post) at following business issues for the Supervisor positions and our Delegation to Richmond, but since they left out some of the other positions, it’s obviously my civic duty to find out a little more about the Sheriff candidates, so Mike and I sat down at Panera over some Ciabatta and chatted:

Why did you decide to run for Sheriff?

It’s all about community. I’ve lived here in Loudoun County for 27 years. My wife works in Loudoun. My kids went to school here and still live here. I’ve been watching from 1980 to now and the changes that have come about. Having a Law Enforcement background, I could see the Sheriff’s office falling behind as we started building new housing developments, roads, shopping centers, and schools. The office wasn’t at parity with the growth. It became one of those things where you say, “Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?” I wanted to be part of the solution.

What qualities do you feel like you possess that you feel would make you a better candidate than your opponents?

One is my diverse experience in Law Enforcement. I’ve done patrol, investigation, intelligence, narcotics, gangs…

All in Fairfax County?

Right…all in Fairfax County. I supervised a regional narcotics task force with 7 jurisdictional participants.

How’d that go?

It went great. We did cases in DC, MD and VA. We closed 25 different crack houses in Herndon, Reston and Leesburg. What this does, though, is it gives you exposure to other jurisdictions and that exposure gives you an opportunity to create a reputation for yourself–good or bad. If you take a look at the endorsements I’ve already received on my website [georgeforsheriff.com], you’ll see what I mean by that. DEA, ATF, Commonwealth Attorneys… Many of the upper level managers of these different agencies are already endorsing me.

The other thing that separates me from my opponents is that I’m the only candidate who has worked in a large jurisdiction experiencing the rapid growth and changing demographics that Loudoun is experiencing right now. Between 1985-95 Fairfax County was one of the fastest growing and wealthiest counties in the nation, very much like Loudoun is today.

How would you separate Law Enforcement Experience and Management Experience?

Management itself is the experience you really learn from. Most of the people who worked with me or for me would consider me a “cop’s cop”; I like to be out there “in it” as they say, but I made Sergeant in 5 years, so out of 20 years, I was a supervisor for 15 years. I believe management is a learned skill. Leadership is a natural skill you sort of have or you don’t–although there are different stages of development in Leadership. Management is a skill set, though–something that has to be learned from doing, and I’ve done it.

From the management perspective, how do you feel that the current Sheriff has handled things?

I don’t feel that he’s really…facilitated community involvement. What does the community want or need? I’ve lived here 27 years and have never been asked the question. In Fairfax, there was a Citizen’s Action Committee that met with command staff and said, “this is what we’d like to see.” Even talking to the Local Chamber of Commerce, it’s evident the current Sheriff hasn’t been a member or hasn’t been involved in any way that I know of to see what local businesses expect of the Sheriff’s office.

You pretty often use the tagline: “Action vs. Reaction.” What do you mean by that?

My point there is that if you look at the Sheriff’s office over the last few years, some positive changes have been made. They were a matter of necessity. They’re reacting to circumstances, but reaction is recovery. I look at “action” as thinking outside the box, and anticipating; some of the programs I want have to do with being proactive and ahead of the curve instead of catching up.

Examples?

Cyberstations for reporting crimes, graffiti, and things like that; emailing school resource officers; anonymous tips. There’s no 24/7 sheriff’s office. Every station in Fairfax is open 24/7, and in Loudoun County, only the Town of Leesburg police is open 24/7.

Are 24/7 police stations in the budget?

Yes, they are in the budget, but with that being said, the station in South Riding was supposed to be 24/7 but it’s not.

And not that cyberstations are replacements for a 24/7 office, but it does help increase two-way communications with the community. And it doesn’t take THAT much money run a website…What’s LoudounBlog costing you?

Hey…

{laughing…}But seriously, wireless ticketing, for instance. Your driver’s license and registration have barcodes that can be scanned and the information can auto-populate the required information fields. Making this process more efficient so officers can spend their time in more productive activities makes sense. Efficiency is a money saver. In this case it allows the deputies to concentrate more on the people involved with the stop which makes it an officer safety measure also. Cops should be patrolling. A business owner should not be the one to discover that someone broke into his business at 8am, because the patrol officer was doing paperwork instead of patrolling at 3:00am when it happens…when that happens, we’ve failed that business owner.

I’d also like to see more use of the prisoners in cleaning up all the parks, and painting over graffiti. I’m sure Home Depot (or somebody) would donate paint and paint brushes. I want to use the resources we have more efficiently. Loudoun is one of most technologically advanced counties in the country. There’s no reason the Sheriff’s Office can’t be the same.

RUOK programs are another way of adding value to the community. Right now you have reverse 911, or caller ID if you call the Sheriff, then they know where you are. With RUOK, the elderly or disabled residents subscribe to a service to auto dial their home at a specific time to check on them; if they do not respond it will auto-dial a contact person and as a final precaution dispatch a deputy if needed…again…being proactive. If you take it a step further: the same system can be used for “Amber Alert” type emergencies, or flood or fire alerts, etc…

What role does Partisanship play in this election, do you think?

The Sheriff is obviously a bi-partisan position. You can’t afford for political beliefs to interfere with public safety. If I do get elected, it’ll be as a Democrat…Hey, don’t wince.

Did I wince?

{laughing…} the Commonwealth Attorney for Loudoun County is a Republican and he’s unchallenged in this election. I’ll have to work with him every day. Scott York, an independent will most likely be the Chairman again, and I’ll have to work with him every day, too. My belief is that the service you give to the community as Sheriff cannot be swayed by political beliefs at all.

On July 17th the Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to seriously review plans to restrict services from illegal immigrants in the County. Your thoughts on that?

It doesn’t really change anything at all. As Sheriff, you have to enforce the laws. We don’t make the laws, we enforce them. I would say, that regardless of how that turns out, you’re going to have to prioritize your resources—manpower, jail space, transportation, overtime. You have to make decisions about what’s important to the community and what’s important for public safety.

They were forced to do it, after all. It’s a protective measure. Since Prince William did it, the concern is that too many illegal aliens would find their way over here to Loudoun. Look, it’s a complicated issue, with varying degrees of ramifications. One of the key issues discussed is the possibility of denying medical treatment. Federal law dictates their right to be educated. Does anyone want medically untreated children going to school with all of the other kids? In addition to that, what about denying neonatal care to an undocumented alien, who would have the child here, making that child a citizen. These kids may have some long-term problems that will cost us more in the long run.

The main issue—and as Sheriff, this is more important—if undocumented aliens are caught performing a criminal act, they should be deported…period.

Closing Remarks?

One of the things I see that is missing is accountability. If you make the decision and you are in charge, you need to able to justify your actions. It is not acceptable to say , “It is not my fault”, not unless you can show with documented evidence that you were prevented from acting as you planned, that you utilized every available resource and you were still prevented from completing the task at hand.

Accountability was successfully used in NY to clean up the Times Square Area. They held district commanders accountable for the crimes being committed in their areas. With any criminal activity you had to show how you responded to the situation, how that situation was resolved and what you were doing to prevent that same situation from reoccurring.

Loudoun County is no longer a bedroom community. We need to implement the successful programs being used in larger jurisdictions, with any modifications to fit our specific needs, to maintain the quality of life we currently enjoy here.

I enjoyed it, Mike. I trust if people have questions on the site, you’ll be able to answer them?

Absolutely, Butch; out of the 10,000+ readers a day you get to your site, some are BOUND to have questions.

Thanks…thanks for that–really. Kick a guy while he’s down why don’t you.

And obviously they can visit my site, www.georgeforsheriff.com, or shoot me an email at: georgeforsheriff@aol.com.

I’m sure we could have gotten into a lot more, on immigration, on politics, on a variety of things, but we kept it pretty simple. Obviously feel free to comment or ask questions, and we’ll make sure that he Mike gets them.

Contender for Loudoun County Sheriff
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6 thoughts on “Contender for Loudoun County Sheriff

  • I enjoyed reading the interview. It’s educational too. I’m sure that there are many people who have recently moved into Loudoun county from other counties or states and don’t understand the role that the Sheriff’s Department plays. That said, I wonder what role Mike envisions for the average citizen in crime prevention in a growing and increasingly diverse area. I find the cyberstations concept for crime reporting to be interesting, if a little futuristic. Also, are there plans to increase the number of officers on the street? I watched Fairfax County officers struggle to cover large areas.

  • Yeah Anonymous…

    Not sure which is the biggest waste of time. A citizen sitting down and interviewing a candidate for Sheriff?

    You responding with such an asinine comment?

    Or me taking the time to respond to said asinine comment.

    Tough call.

  • Hey thanks anonymous.

    Come back and see us anytime.

    Before you come back I would recommend looking up the terms: “self-deprecating humor” and “sarcasm.”

    Might help you avoid some unfortunate social missteps in the future.

    And to you “new to loco” thanks for your kind words, even if you’re only one of 20.

  • I bet anonymous made that comment while reading this blog in a Loudoun County public library. Hurry up, the homeless guy gets the computer in fifteen minutes!

    Hey, 10K, that’s just five sets of nuts in a single day.

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