Editorial: Playing politics with law enforcement is wrong | Opinion

Katie R. Ochoa

It ought to go with no stating that every elected formal – as nicely as any common-Joe resident –should really feel absolutely free to phone the law enforcement if they really feel threatened by a information delivered either in man or woman or on the net.

Regretably, nevertheless, that obvious truth of the matter was designed murky this earlier 7 days owing to accusations lobbed at Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey in reaction to her husband’s final decision to report an angry e mail from a Dumfries resident with the topic line: “Government Concentrate on.”

The Baileys, it should be reported, are probable fairly adept at recognizing a risk when they see a person. Cozy Bailey, a retired Maritime Corps lieutenant colonel who served when Black officers were by far the exception, is now president of the Prince William NAACP.  In that ability, he also serves on the Prince William County Police Department’s Citizen Advisory Board. In other text, Cozy Bailey has very likely knowledgeable adequate threatening overtures to location 1 from a mile absent.

So, the simple fact that Cozy Bailey forwarded an indignant e-mail with the matter line “government target” to Police Main Peter Newsham was not inappropriate. Yet again: Any elected official or average-Joe citizen has each individual ideal to contact the law enforcement to report a perceived threat.

It’s the police department’s position to consider individuals reports and decide what to do upcoming. As Main Newsham explained to County Executive Chris Martino, the e-mail in question was “difficult to discern.”

“As is typical in these circumstances, the e mail was sent to the prison investigations division for follow up,” Newsham wrote.

The detective assigned the scenario visited the email’s author, Dumfries resident Robert Hand, at his household to make clear that the electronic mail was considered troubling by some supervisors and to convey to Hand what Virginia legislation suggests about communications that “cross the line” into threatening and unlawful territory. The detective also assured Hand he had not broken the legislation and must truly feel snug expressing his First Amendment rights. Hand was billed with no crime, as his intentions were being decided not to have been threatening. 

Hand advised the law enforcement officer that the “government target” to which he was referring, was not the supervisors them selves but fairly a further regional resident and repeated board critic, Alan Gloss. Gloss unsuccessfully sued the board final yr, alleging its five Democrats violated the state’s FOIA regulation by attending a police neighborhood assembly held immediately after a Might 2020 protest in opposition to police brutality that devolved into violence. A decide in the long run dismissed Gloss’s lawsuit previous drop.

During a the latest board meeting, Supervisor Andrea Bailey could be read on the microphone asking Board Chairman Ann Wheeler: “What are you heading to do about Alan Gloss?”

Neither Wheeler nor Bailey has discussed what that remark was about, but some, including Hand, took it to be a slight towards Gloss. 

Some who are angry with the present-day board above modern land-use decisions have seemingly applied Newsham’s selection to look into Hand’s e-mail to accuse Democrats on the board, who keep the the vast majority, of using the police to stress their critics.

But if that ended up the case, wouldn’t the police section commit a whole lot additional time investigating those critics? All those complaining the loudest about the investigation should really question by themselves if they’ve at any time been given a pay a visit to from law enforcement for a thing they’ve stated in the course of citizens’ comment time or for a critical electronic mail they’ve fired off to the board. Likely, the remedy is no.

There’s no proof that supervisors of both social gathering have made use of their clout to “pressure” the law enforcement to look into their critics. To advise normally is improper.

Newsham himself could not have been far more obvious about the scenario very last Tuesday, Sept. 7, when Republican supervisors grilled him about whether the investigation was enthusiastic by politics.

“There’s been allegations that this investigation was completed for a political goal. Nothing at all could be further from the fact,” Newsham claimed.

At a different issue in the meeting, Newsham additional stated: “I felt it was the suitable factor to do. I felt it was in the finest desire of public security. If we hadn’t of accomplished some sort of a evaluation of that conversation, and some thing awful took place below at the McCoart setting up, I feel I would be answering diverse issues than these.” 

Before he was employed by Prince William County in November 2020, Newsham was chief of law enforcement for the Washington Metropolitan Police Division, wherever he worked for 30 years. Newsham also has a regulation degree. With that qualifications, Newsham has ample encounter and legal understanding to decide when an angry e mail deserves a next glimpse. 

At the time upon a time, Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, and Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, praised Newsham for accurately that – his knowledge.

“I believe he provides a great amount of expertise to Prince William County, and I feel he’ll be a benefit as we go on to strengthen our police section,” Candland claimed shortly right after Newsham was employed in November 2020.

At the time, Lawson said this of Newsham: “He obviously arrives with a depth of expertise and understanding that I feel Prince William County can truly achieve from.”

So why are Lawson, Candland and Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles, now questioning Newsham’s selection to look into the e mail?  

Probably it is simply because they – not Newsham – are allowing politics get in the way of their better judgment.

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