On Tuesday, Democrat Stacey Kincaid, 48, was elected the first female sheriff in the 271-year history of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s office, and she says it’s not something she takes lightly.
“This is a profession dominated by men and I have been a woman in the sheriff’s office for 26 years so far,” she said. “I have always tried to be a role model for young ladies, and as sheriff, I will continue to be.”
As her own role models, Kincaid cites D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier and Katherine Little, who retired from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office in 2010 after having served 37 years there. Little was one of the first women to join the sheriff’s office, and remains its longest serving deputy sheriff, male or female.
Kincaid said that when she joined the sheriff’s office in 1987, women were underrepresented in policing.
“The Fairfax Sheriff’s Office has been slow to adapt to the change,” she said. “It is my belief that the Office of the Sheriff must face up to the evolving needs of the community and the expectations placed upon its top leadership. I am committed to developing new strategies and approaches that can be used to increase our effectiveness and, in turn, better serve our community.”
Kincaid says that it is an honor being the first elected female Fairfax County Sheriff and that she plans on implementing many changes, all within a framework of being fiscally responsible.
“There is a lot to be done but regardless of any pressure that is put on me as the first female sheriff, I am sure that I will be the one putting more pressure on myself than anyone else,” she said.
Kincaid said one of her first priorities will be to immediately move to foster more diversity within the sheriff’s office.
“Diversity should be inclusive of all levels, not just at entry and middle levels,” she said, adding that at the higher echelons of the department, “five white males and one white female is not diverse.”
She said she also plans to restructure the office’s promotion process, making it more equitable.
“My vision is moving our department forward with a promotion process that is fair and equitable and objective, rather than subjective,” she said.
Kincaid says the current promotion procedure is for applicants to take a multiple-choice test and then to write a self-assessment which is then reviewed by a supervisor and voted upon by an assembled group of 40 or so higher-ranking department members. “This system opens itself up to too much subjective influence in my opinion,” she said. “Anyone within that group can speak out and influence everyone else. I have a lot of great ideas and I’m very excited to implement them.”
Current sheriff Mark Sites said he is happy with the outcome of the election.
“I am very happy for Stacey,” said Sites, who has been filling in as sheriff since former sheriff Stan Barry--who held the office for 13 years--unexpectedly tendered his resignation to the Board of Supervisors earlier this year. Sites, also a Democrat, lost the Democratic primary to Kincaid in July. He will now stay on within the department as a Lt. Colonel and work closely with his new boss. “We met for a few hours Wednesday and decided I would stay on to help her in any way I can. She was the only qualified candidate in the sheriff’s race, and I am happy she won,” he said.