Controversy erupts in Virginia over Chinese signature on police academy’s graduation certificates

Controversy erupts in Virginia over Chinese signature on police academy’s graduation certificatesControversy erupts in Virginia over Chinese signature on police academy’s graduation certificates
via Fairfax County Police Department
Michelle De Pacina
21 days ago
The graduation of 61 law enforcement trainees from Fairfax County’s Criminal Justice Training Academy last month stirred controversy due to the signature on their certificates being in Chinese.
Key points:
  • Among the graduates were officers from the Herndon town police force in Virginia, marking the first time trainees from that department attended since Maj. Wilson Lee assumed command over a year ago.
  • The certificates that were signed in Chinese by Lee, who is Chinese American, drew objections from Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard.
  • DeBoard’s complaint led to a decision by Fairfax County to terminate Herndon Police’s affiliation with the academy, citing inconsistencies with the county’s One Fairfax Policy on racial equity.
The details:
  • In an email to Lee, DeBoard reportedly refused the certificates and said, “This is not acceptable for my agency. I don’t want our Herndon officers to receive these.”
  • Following the complaint, witnesses reported a tense exchange between DeBoard and Fairfax Police Chief Kevin Davis during the graduation ceremony. Subsequently, Fairfax County decided to prohibit Herndon officers from attending future academy classes.
  • Fairfax County refused to issue new certificates as DeBoard requested, saying, “Our last several recruit classes are majority minority as we make historic strides to better reflect the community we serve. Any expressed sentiments that appear to take issue with these realities are unfortunate and not reflective of Fairfax County’s commitment.”
  • Deputy County Executive Thomas Arnold, who oversees public safety, also informed DeBoard in a March 18 letter that the Town of Herndon Police Department’s affiliation with the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy would be terminated effective June 1.
  • Arnold noted that her remarks and actions do not follow the One Fairfax Policy, which promotes racial and social equity in all government and school agency policies, practices and initiatives.
Fairfax County earns support:
  • Following the complaint about the signature, the National Asian Peace Officers Association praised Davis for defending Lee, emphasizing his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • The Hamkae Center, a grassroots organization advocating for Asian Americans in Virginia, also supported Fairfax’s decision to exclude Herndon officers from future academy classes. 
  • They expressed concern that race and ethnicity-based actions could undermine trust in law enforcement, highlighting the impact on Asian Americans and emphasizing the importance of respect and inclusion in policing practices.
About DeBoard:
  • DeBoard, 60, made history in 2012 by becoming the first female police chief in Northern Virginia. She has reportedly actively engaged with non-White communities, participating in events like the “Justice for Black Lives” rally and advocating for immigrant communities to feel comfortable contacting the police
  • But in 2020, she faced accusations of racial bias from the NAACP after a confrontation involving a Black and a white student on a Herndon Middle School bus. DeBoard denied any racial motivation and stated that witness accounts supported the finding that the Black youth instigated the incident, though she had not personally viewed the bus video.
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