Greg Ahlemann For Sheriff
I have had numerous conversations with both Republican candidates, have watched two debates between the men and have read many newspapers articles and interviews in which they discuss their views. Greg Ahlemann demonstrates by far the best understanding of what is really happening in Loudoun County and what the citizens are dealing with.
Since the first time I heard him speak back in February, Mr. Ahlemann has been saying there is more the Sheriff's Office can do while the current Sheriff has been saying, essentially, "we are doing all we can."
Mr. Ahlemann has been saying the Sheriff's Office should participate in the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) training program under section 287g of the Immigration and Nationality Act, whereby local deputies can become authorized to enforce U.S. immigration law and gain access to databases that help identify criminal aliens. Herndon, Virginia is participating in the 287g program as are a growing number of jurisdictions throughout the U.S.
The illegal alien problem in Loudoun County cannot be laid solely at the Sheriff's feet. The roots of the problem are non-enforcement of business licensing rules, non-enforcement of laws against hiring illegal aliens, and certainly non-enforcement of zoning regulations (Herndon, a town of 23,000 has six zoning inspectors fluent in Spanish; Loudoun County, with a population of 220,000, has one.) These are all issues that need to be addressed, at least initially, at the Board of Supervisors' level.
Greg Ahlemann has also been saying from the beginning that the Sheriff must be an advocate to the Board of Supervisors, telling them that reducing gang crime and other problems caused by illegals will require the coordinated efforts of the entire government. I think we need a Sheriff who will be an advocate for the citizens' safety rather than one who will tell them nothing more can be done.
In a debate last month at Patrick Henry College, the question was asked: "What would you say to residents of Sterling Park who believe their neighborhood has become less safe in recent years?"
Sheriff Steve Simpson's response was: "The crime rate in Sterling has gone down."
In my view, this demonstrates the disconnect between our current Sheriff and the citizens of Loudoun County. All statistics aside, for those of us who live here, the deterioration of our neighborhoods is a real thing. Sterling definitely HAS become less safe in recent years, if safety can be measured in whether you can go to the Safeway after dark, or whether you can walk on your neighborhood streets. To tell us that the crime rate has decreased is no answer at all to the question but shows the Sheriff has no appreciation for the fact the problem exists. It certainly does not give reason to hope the problem will be solved.
Similarly, in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors early last month, Sheriff Simpson implied that Mr. Ahlemann has been using "fear" for political purposes and exaggerating the illegal alien problem. In fact, the citizens of Loudoun County have been outraged about the problem since long before Mr. Ahlemann was a blip on anyone's radar. I have attended meetings during the past year in which representatives of the Sheriff's Office have been barraged with questions and complaints from Sterling residents over what has happened in their neighborhoods. Greg Ahlemann is talking about this reality when he talks about the problems local citizens are facing.
Most importantly, Greg Ahlemann seems to best understand that the perception of the Sheriff's Office needs to change. As he noted in a speech in February, when he was growing up he knew the Herndon police were extremely strict about cracking down on speeders, so whenever he drove into Herndon he was careful to slow down. If the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office participates in 287g training and the Sheriff becomes an advocate to the Board about beginning to fix the illegal alien problem in Loudoun, it will help to build the public perception that Loudoun County is not the place to come if you are an illegal alien.
It is true that 287g will not solve all of our problems. But it will begin to solve the public perception problem. Even at the Board meeting when he changed positions several weeks ago and agreed to look into 287g, Sheriff Simpson actually spent most of the time talking about the reasons he did NOT want to get involved in 287g sooner and why it is NOT everything the citizens might expect. I have strong reservations about whether the Sheriff is actually committed to participating in the ICE training and I don't think he realizes that his Office actually can do a great deal toward fixing our problem simply by taking a more prominent public stance on the issue.
I recently spoke with Julia Rush, communications director for the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Sheriff's Office. Mecklenburg was the first local jurisdiction to participate in 287g training and their Sheriff, Jim Pendergraph, has become a prominent advocate for the program. Ms. Rush told me that the program actually has paid for itself (one of Sheriff Simpson's reservations has been the cost). In part, this is because Mecklenburg County is reimbursed $109 per night for every federal prisoner it holds, which includes illegal aliens held under the 287g authority. Loudoun County is reimbursed only $55 per night. Ms. Rush said the reason Mecklenburg gets double the remimbursment is because their liaison to ICE demanded it and "camped out in their office" until it was provided.
In other words, the effectiveness of the ICE program depends on the will of the participating jurisdictions, on the seriousness with which the law enforcement agency views the illegal alien problem.
Loudoun County has been beset by a massive increase in illegal aliens over the past five years. We deserve a Sheriff's Office that is taking the lead and doing everything possible to deal with criminal aliens.
Greg Ahlemann has shown he truly understands the problem and that much more can be done. From his years as a deputy working the streets of Loudoun County, he saw firsthand the growing gang problem. He has spent many hours talking with residents about the crime, overcrowding, and unlicensed businesses that have changed Sterling for the worse and are now affecting the rest of Loudoun as more illegal aliens arrive and continue to settle further to the west. If you live in Landsdowne, Leesburg, Balls Bluff, Countryside, Ashburn or even Brambleton, you are on the verge of experiencing the same issues of increased crime and neighborhood blight if you are not seeing them already.
We need Greg Ahlemann for Sheriff because the time is now to address the illegal alien problem in Loudoun County.
I do have to add I do not think Sheriff Simpson has been a poor Sheriff or that he does not wish to solve the problem in Loudoun. As everyone who knows him realizes, he is a decent man. I think either of the Republican candidates is head and shoulders above the Democratic candidate - who said he was in favor of ICE training but enrolling more than one deputy would be "overkill." This is patently ridiculous; as Sheriff Simpson asked "would that deputy work 365 days a year?" and it shows the Democrat has no intention of really dealing with illegal immigration but is trying to make political hay off the issue. I will go to work enthusiastically for whichever Republican candidate for Sheriff wins the nomination at tomorrow's Convention.
I just think Greg Ahlemann has a better grasp of what needs to be done, and that he will do more to change the perception of our Sheriff's department into one which is, like Mecklenburg's, tough on addressing the negative effects of illegal immigration.
You can read about the Sheriff's decision to change course on 287g here.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Greg Ahlemann For Sheriff.
TrackBack URL for this entry: