Accueil SociétéAmérique United States | Herndon Police terminated from training academy after chief’s complaints over Chinese signatures on certificates

United States | Herndon Police terminated from training academy after chief’s complaints over Chinese signatures on certificates

Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard raised concerns about the academy's director signing the certificates in Chinese characters.

Par panorama papers
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David Newman

The Herndon Police Department has been excluded from a police training academy in Fairfax County after the chief raised issues about Chinese signatures on the graduation certificates. Deputy County Executive for Safety and Security Thomas Arnold told Chief Maggie DeBoard that her agency was terminated from the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy.

In early March, Chief DeBoard complained that her graduates received certificates upon their training completion signed in Chinese characters by the academy’s director, Major Wilson Lee.

In an email to Lee, who is Chinese, DeBoard said, “I just found out that the academy graduation certificates were signed by you in some other language, not in English. This is unacceptable for my agency. I don’t want our Herndon officers to receive these and I am requesting that they are issued certificates signed in English, the language that they are expected to use as an officer.”

Lee was promoted to the role more than a year ago. While the Fairfax County Police Department is declining to comment on the matter, in an email to his officer, Chief Kevin Davis is defending Lee.

“For 16 years of an impeccable career, memorializing a legal name given at birth with a signature that exudes heritage pride has not garnered a single criticism,” the email read. “Nor should it. Now, it is suddenly ‘unacceptable’ and inconsistent with our ‘traditions’? I don’t think so.”

A spokesperson for Chief DeBoard told WUSA9 she was unable to make a comment. Herndon Town Manager Bill Ashton said they’re conducting an external review of the incident with the objective to restore the working relationship with the county.

“It is unfortunate that Chief DeBoard’s recent interaction with Fairfax County’s Criminal Justice Academy has been viewed as discriminatory,” Ashton said. “I have personally known Chief DeBoard for over 12 years and this interaction is completely inconsistent with the dedicated public servant that I know, who has served this town and Fairfax County with honor and distinction for many years. However, I also know that words and actions matter. I deeply regret that this incident has been hurtful to our community.”

The National Asian Peace Officers’ Association (NAPOA) sent a letter to Chief Davis last month to thank him for his support of Maj. Lee.

“Your continued support for your Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders personnel has not got unnoticed,”

NAPOA President Shane Liu said in his letter.

Smaller departments like Herndon tend to have affiliations with countywide academies. In Fairfax County, Vienna Police, the sheriff’s office, and Fairfax County Fire Marshals participate in the academy.

Herndon Councilmember Kevin LeBlanc posted this to his social media:

“I do not condone insensitive behaviors and believe that signatures are deeply personal and unique parts of our identity and all identities should be celebrated and respected. I will be clear, her comment and request was discriminatory and wrong and should have been handled differently. This event however contradicts the record of HPD in many ways. I know the HPD has grown to be more diverse and reflective of the community under the chief’s leadership.”

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