Loudoun Law Enforcement Leaders Provide Community Update | News


Community members, students and law enforcement officers heard crime stats from the three Loudoun police chiefs in the county, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority chief, and Sheriff Mike Chapman on Friday during a lunch hosted by the Loudoun County Crime Commission.

Chapman addressed the fentanyl crisis in the United States and in Loudoun saying that education was the key to stopping it, with his office planning community information forums across the county. He said the age bracket for using the drug has gotten lower, with more adolescent youth getting involved with the drug. He said in 2022 there were 19 overdoses among juveniles, and two deaths. In 2023, he said there were 22 overdoses and no deaths.  

“It’s Important that we know how serious this problem is here,” he said. 

He also talked about crime statistics, noting that even though the crime rate went up 5% last year, crime in the county was two to three times lower than other jurisdictions in the region. He said violent crime was down, homicide was down 15%, rape was down more than 35% and was at the lowest it has been in 12 years. He said across the county investigators were seeing an uptick in aggravated assaults, larcenies, and vehicle thefts. Chapman credited the low crime to the community and the partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the reputation of the Sheriff’s Office.

Chapman with students

Sheriff Mike Chapman speaks with several students from the Academies of Loudoun Criminal Justice program at the Loudoun Crime Commission lunch Jan. 12. Chapman talked about the fentanyl problem among teens and how education is an important part of the equation to stop the problem. 

“We can’t do it well without the community support we have and I think that really is the reason for the most part why we do so well in this county,” he said. 

Leesburg Police Chief Thea Pirnat echoed Chapman’s thoughts on crime and safety noting that last year Leesburg had no homicides. 

She said crime was down overall last year in Leesburg, but service calls increased. She said most of those calls were traffic related and said the town is seeing an uptick in traffic offenses.

Pirnat said in 2023 officers wrote over 3,200 tickets, compared to 2022’s 1,500 tickets. 

“And just to put some perspective on that do you don’t think my officers are out there being overly aggressive with tickets, in 2022 they issued 1,400 warnings. Last year they issued 4,000 warnings,” she said. 

She said crimes like sexual assault, aggravated assault and robbery were all down, but like Chapman said they were also seeing an uptick in vehicle thefts. She blamed some of that on the TikTok Kia and Hyundai challenges—a viral trend where Kia’s and Hyundai’s made between 2011 and 2021 are targeted for theft.

She also said shoplifting has become a problem, pointing to a 46% increase in Leesburg from 2022 to 2023. 

“We are seeing organized—and I do mean organized—groups of individuals coming in. They are not locals … and they are stealing large quantities of products and selling them for profit in other locations,” she said. 

Pirnat said shoplifting is not a crime of need, rather a crime of greed and not one you should feel sympathetic for the offenders. 

“It is not a victimless crime. Not only does it affect our business owners, especially small business owners, it affects all consumers because those loses are being passed on to all of us,” she said. 

She addressed spike in mental health calls in recent years saying that the Leesburg Police Department’s average mental health service call was nine hours and 20 minutes in 2022. 

She ended her remarks by talking about recent improvements to the agency, including the renovation of the police department building, added technology in the form of cameras with license plate readers that can send an alert if a stolen car drives in front of it and increased sworn officers, including nine new recruits—the largest in the department’s history—in the next academy training and an expanded Public Information Office lead by Michelle Bowman, the manager of public information and community engagement. 

Jones and McAlister

Middleburg Police Chief Shawn Jones and Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister at the Loudoun Crime Commission lunch Jan. 12. 

Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister and Middleburg Police Chief Shawn Jones talked about the low crime rate in their towns and highlighted the importance of building community relationships. 

McAlister said in the small community there is a good chance officers will know the people they pull over for traffic violations. 

“Whether it’s at Fireman’s field at a baseball game or at the grocery store, so the relationships we build are unique and I don’t like to call us Mayberry because it’s not quite that calm, but you do get that feel and you get to know the people,” she said. 

“I can brag and I think it’s a good thing, our warning tickets outpace our written summons in our town and I think that is all about building that relationships and it’s all about respect and how the kids and adults treat us when we pull them over,” she said. 

She said they’ve seen an uptick in financial scams and a small increase in shoplifting.

Jones joked that Middleburg was Mayberry, but added, “we don’t allow crime in Middleburg.”

He said the biggest issue they are dealing with right now is speeding and scams against seniors. 

He said it’s a special town where six full time and three part time officers watch over 700 residents, but he said he’s proud of the department and all the staff does. 

Crime Commission lunch

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Chief David Huchler speaks during the Loudoun Crime Commission lunch Jan. 12. Sheriff Mike Chapman (left), and  Leesburg Police Chief Thea Pirnat (right) also spoke to the crowd about crime and the community. 

MWAA Police Chief David Huchler said his agency’s jurisdiction goes across Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties and includes the Dulles Toll Road. He said a lot of people don’t realize they are responsible for all of the law enforcement and security for both airports and the toll road.

He said they typically see a lot of property crime and assaults attributable to the overservice of alcohol or flight delays. They also partner with several federal agencies. For example, he said the Transportation Safety Administration does the screening at airports, but MWAA police handle all law enforcement incidents. 

Academies of Loudoun and Loudoun Valley High school senior Abby Stern said hearing from all the different chiefs really opened her eyes to the different jurisdictions. She is interested in becoming a defense attorney one day. 

“I never thought about the airport [police] … I didn’t know how much went into everything and it was interesting to meet and talk to the heads of every department. 

The Loudoun Crime Commission is a nonprofit 2005 as a way for residents, businesses, educators, law enforcement and elected representatives to share their perspectives in promoting safe communities in Loudoun County. It holds lunches eight months of the year.


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