Six months and he’s gone

By Margaret Morton

Leesburg Today

Jan. 27, 2012

Middleburg Police Chief Bill Klugh, who has headed the town’s police department for six months, gave the Town Council a surprise Thursday night when it was announced he would retire effective May 1.

Klugh said today he had not expected to be retiring so soon. “I discovered I was eligible for retirement sooner than I thought,” he said. Klugh worked for the Fairfax City Police Department for 27 years before being hired to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Steven Webber.

The council heard the news during a closed session Thursday. Town Administrator Martha Mason Semmes said she would begin recruitment immediately and advertise the position on several major websites, including those of the Virginia Municipal League and Chiefs of Police Association. In a statement released this afternoon, Semmes said the town was looking for a chief who would “continue the tradition of excellence in small town policing the Middleburg community has been fortunate to enjoy.”

Klugh brought stability and a sense of order to the department during his short tenure. Klugh formerly was deputy chief of the Fairfax City Police Department. He was selected after an extensive search, with his budgeting, grant-writing and administrative experience, particularly in police procedures, winning out over more than 35 other candidates.

Klugh said he appreciated the opportunity given him by the town to lead its police department and regretted his service had been for such a short time.

Mayor Betsy Davis said in a statement, “We appreciate the knowledge and skills that Chief Klugh has brought to our Police Department and know that we will be left with an even stronger department.”

But that time was well spent, according to the council, who only last night endorsed revisions to a number of police policies, thanking Klugh for a job well done. Klugh said he had written the revised orders to have the town compliant with “best accepted practices” and recent decisions by the Supreme Court.

Webber’s 10-year tenure as police chief in Middleburg ended in some disarray as he became the focus of criticism over the controversial arrest of Middleburg businesswoman and Middleburg Eccentric editor Dee Dee Hubbard on charges of felony embezzlement. Last November, Hubbard was acquitted on all six charges brought against her, but the manner of her arrest still rankled many in town.

During his presentation Thursday night, Klugh said his goal in revamping the town’s police policies was “clarification and modification” to make the standards clearer and set expectations to be met. He did not did refer to the circumstances of Hubbard’s arrest and the dismay that greeted news of the 67-year-old woman being arrested at her office and led down the street in handcuffs, before being transported to the magistrate’s office in Leesburg.

A key focus of those critical of the manner of Hubbard’s arrest related to the fact a photographer had been tipped off by her accuser, property owner Jack Goehring, to the place and time of the arrest. The photographer was present to take images of the arrest and of Hubbard being led handcuffed from the scene, and later sold the photographs to the Loudoun Times Mirror.

Under the new Prisoner Care Transport policies, the revised order stipulates that prisoners must be kept secure, treated humanely and must not be subjected to any unnecessary restraint or force. Secondly, the order stipulates that prisoners are not permitted to communicate with news media while in custody and no special access to prisoners is to be provided to any member of the media. Klugh said he had specifically included that clause to address concerns raised in the community.

 

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