But the vote angered some members, who said the organization was venturing far from its mandate of finding solutions to regional problems and into the controversial realm of politics.
The boards of Loudoun and Frederick counties promptly voted to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual funding from COG, and Prince William County and the city of Manassas threatened to do the same if the resolution wasn’t reversed. Loudoun, Frederick and Manassas called the policy “inappropriate and disrespectful” of the views of individual localities and not proper for COG to weigh in on.
Ahead of this Wednesday’s COG meeting, three local leaders launched a move to reconsider the policy declaration by sending it to a committee. That was good enough for some. But not all.
“This thing needs to be reversed in its entirety and put to a quick death,” Corey A. Stewart (R), chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said in an interview.
His county’s board passed a resolution saying that such declarations are beyond COG’s scope and that it would withhold its almost $300,000 in annual dues if the gun resolution is not reversed.
“We’re not going to be paying dues to an organization that has strayed from its mission,” Stewart said, saying that Virginia municipalities cannot address gun control.
Falls Church Vice Mayor David F. Snyder also does not want the matter studied further. He wants COG to stand fast behind the police chiefs’ recommendations. He said the issue was appropriate for COG to consider because gun violence affects schools and police, which are funded by local governments.
“To go back on that sells out our first responders,” Snyder (R) said, “our public employees, our public, and does so in response to intimidation in the form of withholding dues, which I believe fundamentally undermines COG for the future.”
Prince George’s County Council member Karen R. Toles (D-District 7) said she was disappointed by the prospect of counties withholding money from COG. The police chiefs’ organization “is a nonpartisan group,” Toles said. “This is not Republicans and Democrats. . . . I hope we don’t have to wait until a Newtown happens in one of these jurisdictions before people stand up and take a position.”
Although COG is known for crossing county and state lines on issues such as homeland security and water quality, the group “regularly adopts policy resolutions on issues that are part of its core work program,” said Chuck Bean, its executive director. Bean said he was hopeful that the efforts of those calling for reconsideration would result in reaching common ground.