Thea Pirnat Named Leesburg's Chief of Police

Pirnat comes to the Leesburg Police Department following a 23-year career with the Fairfax County Police Department. Her first day as Chief of Police will be Monday, July 24.

Leesburg, VA (May 15, 2023) – Town Manager Kaj Dentler has announced that Thea Pirnat has been named Leesburg's next Chief of Police. 

Major Pirnat comes to the Leesburg Police Department following a 23-year career with the Fairfax County Police Department. Upon joining FCPD in 2000 she worked as a patrol officer and detective before promotion. As a supervisor, she oversaw patrol squads, assisted with accreditation, and served as an investigator in the Internal Affairs Bureau. Her past commands have included the Major Crimes Bureau, the Reston District Station, and the Resource Management Bureau overseeing the agency's property and evidence, fleet, quartermaster, and facilities and security divisions. Her most recent command has been of the Organized Crime and Intelligence Bureau.

Major Pirnat's ancillary assignments have included commanding the department's Language Skills Supplemental Unit and serving as an adjunct instructor for the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy, where she helped develop and teach a course in domestic violence investigation and intervention. She also serves on a FCPD workgroup dedicated to increasing the recruitment and retention of women. She was featured in a profile video highlighting the FCPD's commitment to the 30x30 Initiative where they pledged to have 30% representation of women police recruits by the year 2030. In 2022, she spoke at a National Summit on Women in Law Enforcement sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the 30x30 Initiative titled: “Improving Public Safety and Transforming Police.” Major Pirnat also serves as the Committee Co-Chair for the Fairfax County Fatality Review Team and is a member of Fairfax County's Supervised Visitation and Exchange Advisory Board.

Major Pirnat holds a Master's in Public Administration from George Mason University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas in San Antonio. She is a graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum's Senior Management Institute for Police, the Professional Executive Leadership School through the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, along with the Women's Leadership Institute and Leadership in Police Organizations curriculum by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. She is a member of the IACP, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, and the Police Executive Research Forum.

Major Pirnat lives in Loudoun County with her husband and three children.

“I am honored and thrilled to be selected to serve as the next Chief of Police of the Leesburg Police Department. I am looking forward to working with this wonderful community and enhancing the solid foundation of community engagement and public safety strategies that the fine men and women of the Leesburg Police Department have already established,” Major Pirnat stated.

Major Pirnat's selection as the Town's next Chief of Police comes following a deliberately lengthy and thorough executive search process led by the IACP and the Town's Human Resources Team. Top candidates for the position were required to pass evaluations from a panel led by the IACP, which included regional Chiefs of Police; and appear before several interview panels that included members of Town staff and community stakeholders. Per Town Code, the Town Manager must also receive the consent of the Town Council prior to extending an offer of employment to a Chief of Police candidate. This was accomplished by the entire Town Council directly interviewing the finalists and discussing their capabilities. 

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Major Thea Pirnat as Leesburg's next Chief of Police,” Dentler stated. “Major Pirnat distinguished herself among a pool of talented candidates with her extensive background and knowledge of best practices in law enforcement, executive administrative capabilities, regional law enforcement knowledge, and the leadership she has shown on several important initiatives while in Fairfax County. I believe she will lead the Leesburg Police Department to new heights and serve our community well.”

“While we look forward to Major Pirnat beginning her career in Leesburg, I also want to acknowledge Major Vanessa Grigsby who has served the department as interim chief since the end of last year upon the retirement of former chief Gregory Brown. She has done so nobly and with great influence. Major Grigsby will continue to serve the department as deputy chief after Major Pirnat comes aboard as chief and help to bridge the transition in leadership ahead of her anticipated retirement in 2024,” Dentler stated.

Major Pirnat's first day as Chief of Police will be Monday, July 24. A swearing-in ceremony will be scheduled for mid-July. An announcement on event details is forthcoming.


Media Contact: 
Kara Rodriguez, Public Information Officer • 703-669-1425


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