Since the Loudoun Blog took it upon itself to insert itself into the Sheriff’s race last year, I felt it important to comment on the concept of the Sheriff’s office being all but replaced by a police force reporting to the board. York announced that he was submitting the idea to be studied by the Public Safety Committee…
“We’re in a situation where we’ve increased in population such that we’re not the rural county we once were,” York said. “Our surrounding jurisdictions, Prince William, Fairfax, Arlington, all have police forces, but they also have a sheriff’s office for the courts.”
…Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson (I) strongly opposes the move to a police force. During last year’s three-way race for sheriff, both the Democrat and Republican candidates endorsed the switch. Starting his fourth term, Simpson says a police force is unnecessary because all of the services a police department would give are already being provide by the sheriff’s office and its almost 500 deputies.
“We’re the largest full-service sheriff’s office in Virginia,” he said. “A police department would not change anything we do. Some of the largest law enforcement units in the U.S. are sheriff’s offices.”
Simpson also challenges the claim that the sheriff’s office does not provide job security and does not hold him accountable enough to the county.
“I think there’s more accountability this way,” he said. “I am accountable to every citizen in the county. If you hire a police chief he’s only accountable to nine people.”
It’s an interesting question what the real change would be and what the practical differences are between an elected Sheriff and an appointed Chief of Police. And wouldn’t it mean that there would be no reason for an election for Sheriff at all? Why would we even bother to elect a constitutional officer whose only responsibility would be to run the county jail and guard the courthouse?