Chinese signatures on graduation certificates upset northern Virginia police chief

Apr 3, 2024, 3:41 PM

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia town has been excluded from a countywide police training academy after the town’s chief complained about Chinese signatures on trainees’ graduation certificates.

Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard complained that the academy director, Maj. Wilson Lee, used Chinese characters to sign the certificates that graduates receive when they complete training at the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy.

In an email sent last month and obtained by The Associated Press, DeBoard told Lee, “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.”

On March 18, the county’s deputy executive for safety and security, Thomas Arnold, wrote to DeBoard informing her that the county was terminating Herndon’s affiliation with the academy.

In a statement, Herndon Town Manager Bill Ashton said the town is reviewing the incident.

He defended DeBoard. “It is unfortunate that Chief DeBoard’s recent interaction with Fairfax County’s Criminal Justice Academy has been viewed as discriminatory. I have personally known Chief DeBoard for over 12 years and this interaction is completely inconsistent with the dedicated public servant that I know,” Ashton said.

The Town of Herndon is a part of Fairfax County, just outside the nation’s capital, but the town maintains its own police force. The much larger Fairfax County Police Department is the primary user of the academy, which also serves the town of Vienna, the county sheriff’s office and the county fire marshal.

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis declined to comment on the dispute. But in an email he sent to officers, he defended Lee, saying. “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. Nor should it.”

Last year, a former Herndon police officer sued the town in federal court, saying she suffered sexual harassment and discrimination at the hands of a supervisor. The lawsuit accused DeBoard of failing to stop the harassment even though she was aware of it.

The lawsuit was eventually settled before trial, but court papers indicate that other officers complained of racial discrimination during the time DeBoard has been chief.

In the court papers, the town said DeBoard took the female officer’s concerns seriously and that she would have recommended firing the officer accused of harassment, but he resigned before she could do so. Lawyers for the town said the complaints of racial discrimination were made by officers who faced disciplinary action.

Herndon Police referred questions Wednesday to the statement issued by the town manager.

United States News

Associated Press

‘Catch-and-kill’ to be described to jurors as testimony resumes in hush money trial of Donald Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — A longtime tabloid publisher was expected Tuesday to tell jurors about his efforts to help Donald Trump stifle unflattering stories during the 2016 campaign as testimony resumes in the historic hush money trial of the former president. David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher who prosecutors say worked with Trump and […]

53 minutes ago

Associated Press

America’s child care crisis is holding back moms without college degrees

AUBURN, Wash. (AP) — After a series of lower-paying jobs, Nicole Slemp finally landed one she loved. She was a secretary for Washington’s child services department, a job that came with her own cubicle, and she had a knack for working with families in difficult situations. Slemp expected to return to work after having her […]

56 minutes ago

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to defuse campus tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas. More than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who […]

3 hours ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

4 hours ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Trial opens for former Virginia hospital medical director accused of sexual abuse of ex-patients

NEW KENT, Va. (AP) — The former longtime medical director of a Virginia hospital that serves vulnerable children used physical examinations as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two teenage patients, a prosecutor said Monday, while the physician’s attorney “adamantly” denied any inappropriate conduct. The trial of Daniel N. Davidow of Richmond, who for decades served […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Chinese signatures on graduation certificates upset northern Virginia police chief