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Herndon Town Council: More police presence needed for safety, security

Town of Herndon police (courtesy Herndon Police Department)

The Herndon Town Council is exploring ways to improve safety and security in the town, possibly through increased police presence.

The idea, pitched by Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila at a quarterly strategy meeting late last month, could involve more foot patrols in the community, primarily an effort to curb traffic-related issues.

Del Aguila says that for a small town like Herndon, safety and security can be enhanced with visibility and is less contingent on policing and enforcing.

“The bigger question is, if this is truly a desired need for us, how many police officers would we need? What would that entail?” he said.

But it’s unclear how increased visibility would shake out in a department that is already struggling to hire police officers amid a national labor shortage.

Councilmember Signe Friedrichs said a “culture of impunity” is particularly problematic on the town’s roads, pointing to “drag racing along H-mart.”

The town is limited in its ability to install red light cameras and other similar traffic-calming methods by statute, according to town staff.

In light of the town’s limitations, Councilmember Sean Regan said Herndon could also explore installing more devices that indicate the vehicle’s speed.

According to del Aguila and other council members, part of the challenge to making law enforcement approachable is that the police officers are interacting with a growing Spanish-speaking population, which can lead to barriers born out of communication gaps.

Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said she is aware of the issue and recently hired Hispanic police officers. The department also encourages officers to undergo language training.

Overall, Mayor Sheila Olem said the town’s police officers are generally very “well-received” in the community.

The Town Council’s discussion will be followed by a staff analysis looking at next steps, including how many police officers would be needed to expand the department’s presence and what such an initiative would entail.

The council discussed other priorities at the quarterly meeting, including the possibility of making some motor vehicle services more permanent.

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