NOVA TownHall is conducting interviews with the candidates for the office of Loudoun County Sheriff in the 2011 elections. The first interviews are with the Republican candidates. NOVA TownHall will offer the same opportunity to any Democratic candidates for sheriff who may enter the race, and also extends an open invitation to Sheriff Steve Simpson to be interviewed and to rebut any criticisms which may be leveled against him on these pages.
Verne T. Dickerson is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Loudoun County Sheriff. He will face off against two other candidates in the July 23 convention to represent the Republican Party in the November, 2011 elections.
NVTH: Why do you want to be Sheriff?
Verne Dickerson: I am running because I believe as a 25 year veteran of the FBI and long-time resident of this community, I am uniquely qualified and prepared to make the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office a premier Sheriff’s Office in the country.
Loudoun is a booming county both demographically and economically – our population grew 84% in the last 10 years and we’re rated the wealthiest per household in the United States. When you combine these two factors with our proximity to Washington DC, our nation’s capital, it becomes clear that safeguarding Loudoun County is not only critical to local residents, but essential on a national scope.
We cannot take criminal activity for granted. The next Sheriff of Loudoun County has to know that terrorism is a real and dangerous threat that must be dealt with proactively. Recently, a Saudi chemical engineering student was caught buying chemicals to build a bomb in Texas. His potential targets were identified as the Dallas home of former President Bush, nuclear power plants, critical dams and streets in New York City. Not too long ago, a man from our very county, Farooque Ahmed, was caught engaged in a plot to bomb DC-area Metro stations.
Loudoun needs a Sheriff who is capable of managing the ever-present threat of terrorism while dealing with serious and major crimes on a day-to-day basis. We need a Sheriff who can be responsible for a $70+ million budget and slash costs while increasing deputy effectiveness. We need a Sheriff who can go after gangs like MS-13 while combatting white collar criminals like Osama El-Atari.
My 25 years of experience at the FBI as a Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent has given me the opportunity to investigate numerous areas of criminal activity that are sophisticated in scope. I have decades of experience experience successfully leading vast teams of law enforcement officers, coordinating with state and federal agencies, and managing multimillion dollar budgets.
More important than any of my qualifications, I am a man grounded in Christian faith. I value my integrity. I know that when push comes to shove, I will do the right thing. I won’t conduct personal business in the Sheriff’s Office. I won’t accept monies from 501c3 non-profits. I won’t need encouragement to return donations from convicted felons. Instead, I will serve the people and impartially enforce the laws as written and leave it at that.
As a result of all these qualifications – my background both professionally and personally – I feel that I am the right man to become the next Sheriff of Loudoun County. That’s why I’m running.
NVTH: How long have you lived in Loudoun County?
Verne Dickerson: My wife and I have lived in Loudoun County for the past twelve years. Previously we lived right next door in Herndon for 8 years. Since becoming an adult, I have lived in Loudoun longer than I have in any other place. Additionally, my son lives in Ashburn right here in Loudoun County. Loudoun is home to my family.
NVTH: Why are you more qualified than the other Republican candidates?
Verne Dickerson: I am impressed with the crop of candidates that the Republican Party has fielded for this election. We are fortunate to have men of honor lining up to replace the current Sheriff, and we are even more fortunate that these candidates have such extensive careers in law enforcement. With so many candidates running, it’s clear that the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office is due for a change.
I believe that my particular training and experience makes me the best qualified to be the next Sheriff of Loudoun County. That’s because I have the training and experience from working many years and multiple areas of criminal activity at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and because those skills are readily transferable to running a large Sheriff’s Office.
I have more experience than just drugs. The FBI is responsible for the vast majority of federal violations and after 25 years there I was fortunate to work and lead agents in many different scenarios covering many different violations. I have managed large teams of agents and made many arrests.
I have experience with white collar crimes that would help the Sheriff’s Office track the complicated financial crimes that defraud honest taxpayers in Loudoun County. I have successfully worked on bank robbery cases that could help Loudoun County solve the string of bank robberies that have occurred here over the last few months. I have experience working on everything from interstate kidnapping cases to organized crime/narcotics. On many of these cases, it was essential that I work with local authorities and I had to know and employ local and state law.
I have worked undercover operations and have SWAT training, so I have personal experience fighting major crimes on the streets. Just as importantly, I have worked alongside many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and helped secure many convictions. I have letters of commendation from the Director of the FBI as evidence that my methods and efforts helped convict criminals in very difficult cases to prosecute.
From an academic standpoint, I was trained at the FBI Academy at Quantico. It is my belief that when it comes to learning how to fight crime, there is no better place to learn than the FBI Academy. One of my opponents agrees with me so much so that he lists a course taken at the FBI Academy as the number one academic achievement on his website.
As a Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent, I was continually trained with modern criminology and updated methods to fight crime from the same instructors that taught classes at Quantico. In fact, I taught new agents myself.
Additionally, I have personal experience working in corrections. I spent two years working for the Indiana Department of Corrections as a Corrections Officer and as a Counselor. As a result, running the Adult Detention Center would not require a steep learning curve.
NVTH: Why are you a Republican?
Verne Dickerson: I am a Republican because I am a strong conservative and I believe in the principles of the Republican Party platform. I believe that the Constitution is a sacred document and that our freedoms must be protected vigilantly.
NVTH: Why do you think Steve Simpson should be replaced as Sheriff?
Verne Dickerson: I think the current Sheriff has been in office for far too long. When he was first elected, Loudoun was a very different county. Back then, Loudoun had a much smaller population and crimes were less numerous and less complicated.
As a result, I think the current Sheriff is overwhelmed and his priorities have been misplaced. The next Sheriff should have integrity and the experience and know-how to manage a vast multimillion-dollar budget and 500+ sworn deputies pragmatically and effectively.
NVTH: If elected, what are your top priorities?
Verne Dickerson: My first priority would be to bring back integrity to the Sheriff’s Office. I have been emphasizing the importance of integrity since the publication of my letter to the editor of the Loudoun Times on December 8th.
Making the citizens feel safe is critical. I would then go after the gangs that have begun to spread in Loudoun County. Among others, MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang are indeed here and their presence in Loudoun cannot be tolerated. I would put the full weight of the Sheriff’s Office on them and enhance coordination between the gang intelligence unit and the SRO program so that gangs feel threatened by the law at every turn.
I would make it a mission to enforce immigration law so that the legal immigrants who make this country great are not put at an unfair disadvantage in the job market and elsewhere. Additionally, the allowance of illegal immigration has had the net effect of creating black markets, some more harmful than others. For instance, to supply illegal immigrants with documentation, criminals steal citizen IDs and create false papers. On a secondary level, money transferred between illegal immigrants and the criminals providing fake IDs is difficult if not impossible to track and tax. That hurts all Americans.
I would enhance training for deputies. I have always felt that investing in training is a good investment in the long run. From a managerial standpoint, I would reorganize the department so that more sworn deputies are on the streets, instead of behind computer screens. A look at the proposed FY2012 Fiscal Plan indicates that the Sheriff’s Office already has the monies required to make it happen.