Visit to Resident’s Home Spurred on by County Supervisor, Husband
As we noted in last month’s edition of the Coles District Newsletter, an August 3rd email sent to the Board criticizing specific members for targeting a private county citizen during a hot mic moment, led to the author of the email receiving a visit at their home from the Prince William Police Department within twenty-four hours of the e-mail being sent.
FOIA requests revealed that the email was forwarded within minutes of receipt by Potomac Supervisor, Andrea Bailey, to her husband, Cozy Bailey, who then forwarded along to County Police Chief, Peter Newsham, alleging that the Potomac District citizen had issued a “communicated threat.”
Bailey has been vocally outspoken and repeatedly critical of the Prince William Police Department in recent months, making allegations that a survey firm used by the police department to measure citizen satisfaction with the police department was “bending over backwards to create a survey that makes the police department look good.” Most recently, he alleged that he was called the “n-word” at a meeting with the Prince William County Police Department “five of six years ago.”
As President of the NAACP, Bailey also sits on and serves as President of the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) to the Prince William Police Department, and has direct access to Chief Newsham, as evidenced by the e-mail.
Within 24 hours of the email being sent, the Chief, whose livelihood depends upon support from the majority of the Board of County Supervisors, sent a high-ranking Sergeant from the Intelligence Unit of the Violent Crimes Bureau to the residents home.
Body camera footage released shows the Sergeant repeatedly telling the resident that he “did nothing wrong” either in the sending or in the content of his e-mail. To the officer’s credit, he handled a task he was clearly not comfortable with doing, professionally, and with clear empathy for the resident under attack from his elected representatives.
After the body camera footage was released, Supervisors Vega, Lawson, and Candland expressed grave disappointment and concern over the political pressure placed on the police department to silence and intimidate critics of the Board exercising their First Amendment right to petition their local elected officials.
On August 23rd, they sent a joint letter to Board Chair Ann Wheeler and Count Executive, Chris Martino, requesting for Chief Newsham to appear before the Board on September 7th to answer questions about the police visit to the Board critic’s home. Chair Wheeler has confirmed Newsham’s attendance.
“This was clearly an effort to weaponize our police department and stifle free speech,” said Supervisor Vega. Many will recall the vile attacks I received last summer that makes this email sent look like a love note. Never once did I consider using taxpayer dollars and police resources to go after those individuals. For this family to use the full weight of a department they’ve been so critical of to silence and intimidate their political opponents is so hypocritical. Serving at a “higher level” does not mean that you’re above the people. True servanthood considers yourself less than the people you’re serving.”
After declining comment for weeks, Supervisor Bailey broke her silence on the story last week to the blog, PW Perspective, where she said, “This was a citizen’s call. My husband and I have been in this community since 1976 and we chose to serve here with all people and so we’re not going to let anyone be attacked nor we’re not going to be attacked…We want collectively in PWC freedom of protection.”
However, in 2018, Bailey told InsideNova that she and her husband did not move here until 2002, calling the 1976 claim into question. As of August 30th, her county webpage claims something different, and that she has been here since 1979.
In January of this year, Bailey falsely claimed that she lived in the Rural Crescent while defending a vote to remove hundreds of acres from the rural area. Following media coverage of the claim she was forced to confess that she, in fact, does not live in the rural area.
– Coles District Staff