A special Loudoun County grand jury has found the administration of the county sheriffs department to be "inadequate and inefficient" and has recommended that two chief deputies be appointed.
The grand jury, after a month-long investigation, found no criminal mis-conduct on the part of elected Sheriff Robert W. Legard, but did recommend that the country considered hiring a professional consultant to reorganize the operations of the sheriff's department.
Legard said yesterday that he disagrees with the report. "I don't think it's (the sheriff's department) inadequately administered. It's no better than what they give me to work with."
The sheriff said the problems in the department are caused by a man-power shortage and low salaries, two of the grand jury findings. He said there are 56 deputies to handle the courts, jail, civil matters and patrol the 517 square miles of the county.
He said the starting pay for deputies is $7,400, much less than the amount paid the law enforcement offices in the surrounding jurisdicitons.
County Board of Supervisors Chairman William C. Crossman said he has not read the report, but the findings apparently are no more than what was already known before the investigation was started.
"I was kind of surprised," Crossman said of the special grand jury report. "Personally, I thought they would call some of the members of the Board of Supervisors" to testify, he said.
The chairman of the local Republican Party instigated the grand jury investigation into the sheriff's office after rumors of wrongdoing began circulating throughout the county.
Crosman said, "I know there is a need for more deputies in the country." However, he said any increase in the department would cause county taxes to go up, which many county residents in the rural area oppose. "It's a political issue," he said.
Loudoun and Charles County Md., are the only two remaining jurisdictions in the metropolitan area that have sheriffs who act as chiefs of police.
Residents in the eastern portion of the county have questioned the ability of the sheriff to handle police problems to a suburban area.
The jury also found that records of the Deputy Employees Fund were virtually intact, although not all deposits in the fund were indentified."We found no evidence of fraud," the report read.
The grand jury recommended that the sheriff appoint two chief deputies - one to handle law enforcement and supervise patrol and the other in charge of office operations.
The seven-member jury also recommended that clear job descriptions for all personnel be developed, a simple accounting procedure for handling special funds be established, and a professional consultant be hired to help reorganize the department.
"I don't know what will happen," Legard said of the grand jury report. "It'll be whatever the county wants to do," he said.
Legard said he has appointed a new deputy chief and another shift supervisor. He said he also has asked for 17 additional deputies since the grand jury investigaiton began. He said a new policy manual that outlines the duties and responsibilities of his deputies has been adopted by the department.