Fairfax County officials should move ahead with implementing a body-worn-camera program for the county’s police force, according to a resolution passed Sept. 4 by the McLean Citizens Association’s board of directors.
“Body-worn cameras are a win for all of us, members of our community, the police and the criminal-justice system,” said MCA president Dale Stein. “What they record can be reliable evidence for investigations and prosecutions, a deterrent against unjustified complaints, and pluses for transparency and accountability.”
As of last year, more than 80 percent of large U.S. police forces were using such cameras or planning to do so, the resolution noted.
If implemented countywide, the Fairfax County Police Department’s camera program would cost an estimated $30 million over five years.
County police conducted a pilot program at the department’s Mason, Mount Vernon and Reston district stations between March and August 2018, with half of the officers at each station being assigned cameras and half not.
A report on the pilot program, released in July this year, found county residents overwhelmingly supported widespread adoption of the camera program. Police agreed the program would improve evidence-gathering efforts, increase departmental transparency and help settle complaints against officers.
MCA’s resolution asks the county to begin implementing the body-worn-camera program as soon as possible this fiscal year. MCA board members noted they would not have supported the program if it would have competed budgetarily with officers’ salaries.