Leesburg officials announced last month that Gregory Brown will become the town’s new chief of police, effective Oct. 3. He will replace Joseph R. Price, who retired as police chief in March after 16 years.
Brown, 48, has been with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office since 1997. He has served as a patrol officer, a school resource officer, a criminal investigator and an undercover officer. He holds the rank of captain, and he is currently commander of the Eastern Loudoun Sheriff’s Station in Sterling. He was previously an officer with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department.
The following are edited excerpts of a conversation The Washington Post had with Brown last week about his new position.
Why was this position appealing to you at this point in your career?
It’s actually the only job that I was interested in outside of the sheriff’s office. I was very happy here. When Chief Price decided that he was going to leave, I said, “That’s an opportunity that I can’t pass up.”
I’m very familiar with the jurisdiction [and] the issues. I really admire their approach to community policing, and I admire how they get along with each other.
Joe Price was very well regarded in the community. Do you have any thoughts about replacing him?
Well, there are large shoes to fill. He was a longtime respected veteran here, not just in Leesburg and Loudoun County, but regionally.
I had the opportunity to work closely with him during my assignment at the [Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training] Academy, as the deputy director over basic training. He was the chair of the executive committee . . . and I saw how he facilitated meetings and how he problem-solved, how he addressed not just local but regional issues along with the other chiefs and sheriffs. He was a very respected leader.
So I’m going to have big shoes to fill. But the good thing about that is, I had his tutelage for the last two and a half, three years. I’m very confident that I can build on what he put in place.
What do you see as the most pressing issues in Leesburg today?
In Leesburg, the demographics . . . are similar to Sterling, which is where I am right now. In Sterling, along with Leesburg, we don’t have a gang problem. We have a gang issue. And the difference between the two is that a gang problem would signify that it’s rooted. And I don’t believe that it is rooted. I believe that we have a very robust suppression effort in place.
But I think our biggest issue is having a very quickly growing population, and making sure that we continue . . . to deliver police services that address those day-to-day, quality-of-life issues that make this a desirable place to live.
You will be Leesburg’s first African American police chief. Does that pose any particular challenges for you?
I’ve thought about that. I understand that it’s important to note . . . as a historical reference. But my focus is really going to be on being a newly appointed chief. I would hope that people would judge me on my competence in delivering those police services, rather than focusing on that.
Are you aware of any tensions between the police department and the minority communities?
I want every segment of the community to feel that we are impartially and objectively and fairly serving them. I give that answer because I don’t know wholeheartedly. I’ve spoken to a few people who believe that something exists, and I’m willing to sit at the table and speak about those things and hear what they have to say, hear about their concerns.
Is there anything else that you would like the residents of Leesburg to know about you?
I stand by the philosophy of providing all segments of our community with the same level of policing, the same level of fair, impartial service. I don’t believe in segmentation. We have different communities, but I believe that we have to treat everybody with dignity and respect. Everybody has a seat at the table, because we are one community.
The only difference between the police and the community is that we just happen to wear a uniform. But we’re still members of the community. We need to work together to address the day-to-day issues that affect the quality of life within our community.
So I’m excited about the opportunity. I want to get in there . . . and listen, learn and observe. Hopefully, I can not just fill Joe Price’s shoes, but build on the foundation that he put in place.