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Fairfax County police

Understaffed and anticipating a new chief, the Fairfax County Police Department – like many in the nation – is facing pressure to be more accountable and hire more diverse officers.

Panelists at the McLean Citizens Association’s virtual public-safety forum on April 21 brought a wide variety of perspectives and laments.

Fairfax County police are in a “tailspin, pure and simple,” said Sean Corcoran, president of Fairfax County Coalition of Police, Local 5000.

The department was down 188 officers as of April 11 and likely will see 25 more depart by July 1, Corcoran said. Dozens of recruits have been leaving each academy session and some new officers contemplate leaving before serving the five-year minimum to be vested in their pensions, he said.

Fairfax County has frozen police pay for the past two years (excluding pandemic-related hazard-pay bonuses), but the department has found millions for the body-worn-camera program and police auditor’s office, he said.

Violence is way up in Fairfax County lately, with more firearms seized already this year than in the last decade combined, said retired officer Brad Carruthers, president of the Fairfax County Fraternal Order of Police.

Officers’ day-to-day calls are being met with increased violence, he said.

“People don’t want to go into law enforcement,” Carruthers said. “You’re going to see that number [of officers leaving] jump exponentially in the future.”

As a result of this and nationwide anti-police sentiment, public safety will suffer and officers will be less proactive, said Carruthers, adding that efforts to eliminate “qualified immunity” for police will make things worse.

Qualified immunity, which offers governmental employees exercising discretion some protection from civil lawsuits, has come under national scrutiny in recent months.

“I’m not here to say qualified immunity is the worst thing in the world, in every possible way, because there are times when officials have to have discretion,” said James Bierman, an attorney who is vice chairman and current acting chairman of the Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel.

“But it is used too often to excuse behavior that goes well beyond necessary force.”

The NAACP is asking Gov. Northam to convene a special session of the General Assembly to reintroduce a bill that failed earlier this year, which would have ended qualified immunity, said Karen Campblin, president of the group’s Fairfax County chapter.

“The criminal-justice system is heavily impacted by racial and cultural biases,” she said. “It also includes some outdated judicial precedents, laws and policies, which together culminates into racial disparities over policing, over incarceration and disenfranchisement, particularly for the black people of our community.”

According to the national NAACP, black people are five times more likely than whites to be stopped by police without just cause, Campblin said. Laws that impose restrictions on people with arrests and convictions hurt those people’s future prospects for jobs, housing and education, she said.

Campblin also opposes cash bail, saying it disproportionately affects low-income families and minorities.

Two years after county police fatally shot Kingstowne resident John Geer in August 2013, the Board of Supervisors formed an Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.

The commission recommended civilian oversight through an independent police auditor, creation of the Police Civilian Review Panel, more supervisory oversight of vehicle-stopping techniques and recruitment of high-quality officers who reflect the county’s diversity, said former commission member Adrian Steel.

The Washington region’s law-enforcement market is highly competitive, with local police departments and federal agencies vying for talent, Corcoran said. This scarcity has hampered efforts to hire from the limited pool of minority applicants, other panelists said.

The ad hoc commission also recommended implementing Diversion First, a program that gives low-level offenders alternatives besides incarceration, and undertaking efforts to de-escalate crises.

Steel, who served as inaugural chairman of the Police Civilian Review Panel, said he is looking forward to the department’s full rollout of its body-worn camera program this July, which will include the agency’s tactical teams.

Despite recommended changes to the department’s pursuit policies, the number of pursuits for traffic infractions has not changed, although command staff tend to abort low-level chases quickly, Steel said.

Departmental transparency also lags. “The disposition for disclosure has not fully taken hold,” he said.

(A police spokesman recently told the Sun Gazette to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the number of sworn officers on the force, what constitutes a full complement and how many officers the department currently is short.)

The county’s Civilian Review Panel seeks to enhance police legitimacy and trust, but lacks independent investigative authority, Bierman said. Its scrutiny of police investigations resembles reviews of officials’ calls at sporting events, with decisions to overturn needing to meet a higher standard, he said.

The panel does not handle use-of-force investigations; these go to the county’s first independent police auditor Richard Schott, hired in 2017. A study by two universities, commissioned by Schott’s office, will identify reasons for racial disparity in use-of-force cases and recommend methods for improved data collection and analysis. Schott will present the team’s report to supervisors in June.

County police already have adopted forward-thinking policies, Schott said. “From an oversight and police-reform standpoint, I think Fairfax County is somewhat ahead of the national curve,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we have everything in place perfectly.”

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(27) comments

Josie Wales

Import Baltimore and DC Values, you get Baltimore and DC Problems. While I am not exactly the largest fan of law enforcement, one does not need an IQ above room temperature that know that anything above and beyond tint violations is not worth the hassle.

Phil Bellom

At one time Fairfax County was lauded as the best County in Northern Virginia...With liberals in control, we are rapidly becoming one of the worst counties...Might as well be a cesspool like Arlington..

Lance Livestrong

I'll point out again as a refresher from a previous post,

Last year in FFX, the prosecutors office stepped back and stop proving services for misdemeanors, mostly traffic cases and appeals to circuit court.

As a result, It has become very difficult to resolve minor cases Almost every single case in Fairfax is now a trail. Police are put on the spot making them prosecute cases, and Judges are getting involved with prosecuting cases from the bench.

They are doing so in an effort to move the dockets forward. The minor cases are the cases that create other issues in the court system. If these cases are not resolved in a reasonable manner, then these cases end up getting appealed to circuit court, set for a jury and end up taking up more time and resources.

As a RESULT, this has led to a lack of police morale because law enforcement for these officers is transforming to adjudication in the courts. It has led the C.A. to lead a training program to train police to adjudicate these cases. It has led to victims being not represented in court. Judges are taking up valuable time dealing with minor cases.

Wayne D.

LEO's are bailing all over the country and I cannot blame them one bit. But one issue no one is addressing is that PD's are already lowering their standards to get positions filled. Things that kept you out of a PD are now being overlooked. And this should scare everyone. I know PD's are under a lot of pressure to get boots on the ground but I am concerned that the numbers will increase of what we call bad-cops. Dems. You keep doing what you are doing and you'll find the LEO's you want may just not be what you were hoping for.

Josie Wales

What you are going to be left with is pretty much Baltimore or maybe even Mexico, where the mayor has around a 50 percent chance of facing federal charges by the time they finish their term, same thing with most of the city council. Its going to work out wonderful for cities.

Brad London

People who vote for democrats and the lies of police brutality are guaranteed to get a lot more violent crime. Prime examples include Chicago (27 shooting last weekend), Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta. It's going to get much worse unless voters wake up and support aggressive policing to stop crime and violence.

Robert Austin

Let's address the elephant once and for all. There are official FBI statistics that show blacks commit disproportionately larger numbers of crime in various categories than the rest do. That is exactly the reason they are more likely to have encounters with police than any other per capita in the US. Liberals are trying to convince everyone it's "systematic racism." It's apparent, racism isn't the issue here, it's right there in the FBI's numbers. Some of you will call me a racist for simply telling the truth. When you choose to ignore the problem that makes you the racist, Mr/Ms Liberal. Because you choose to ignore the real problem, you are actually making it worse for them. Sure, it's true we have an honest conversation about race in this country, but until one side is ready to accept it and make things better, it will only get worse.

John Dutko

Statistically, you are more likely to be killed by a white nationalist than a "Muslim terrorist".

But I want to know where you are getting your sources. Here is mine regarding your topic:

https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2018-nibrs-crime-data-as-transition-to-nibrs-2021-continues

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/revcoa18.pdf

What you are doing is conflating truth with cherry-picked data that suits your narrative.

You want to make things better? Afford the same rights and attitudes across the spectrum. Let's have the police treat white people like they do minorities.

Lance Livestrong

The US has seen a wave of senseless attacks on Asian-Americans, especially in New York and the San Francisco Bay area. For example, a black man who was on parole for murdering his mother in 2002 was arrested last month for allegedly attacking a 65-year-old Asian woman in front of a Manhattan apartment building. An assailant was caught on surveillance video kicking the woman in the chest, knocking her to the ground, then kicking her in the head repeatedly as witnesses watched the attack and did nothing to help the victim.

Most of the recent high-profile attacks on Asians have allegedly been perpetrated by young black men, including one California case in which an elderly Thai man was killed. Nevertheless, anti-racism activists have blamed the disturbing trend on former President Donald Trump and “white supremacy.” In fact, after a Filipino-American man was slashed from ear to ear with a box cutter by a black man on a subway car in February, activists responded by holding a rally against white supremacy.

FBI crime statistics showed that whites committed 24% of the violent crimes reported against Asians nationwide in 2018, while whites made up about 62% of the population. Blacks accounted for 27.5% of violent crimes against Asians and 13% of the population.

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv18.pdf

John Dutko

Glad to see you alive and kicking under your new moniker.

But the point is the data used can be manipulated to present an argument favorable to their position, while omitting other information. Take this table for example:

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/tables/table-43

White people dominate the list for arrests with 69.4%, followed by Blacks (26.6), Native Americans (2.4), Asian (1.3) and Pacific Islander (.3). But the fun begins when you break it out by crime.

Blacks lead arrests for murder/ manslaughter (51.2%) and robbery (52.7). White people lead in all other categories by a significant margin: rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor-vehicle theft, arson, forgery, embezzlement, vandalism, carrying weapons, prostitution, sex offenses, drug abuse violations, gambling, domestic violence, liquor laws, drunkeness, disorderly conduct, vagrancy, suspicion, curfew and law violations, and all other offenses.

I mean, based on the data, white people look a lot more menacing and messed up then a bunch of murderous thugs. Asian people look to be the coolest group around. But that is based solely on the data presented. Which is why 5 out of 6 dentists agree with my position.

Robert Austin

Typical response from a racist, deranged, liberal. You still refuse to accept the truth when it's right there in front of you. You can run from facts forever, sooner or later you'll have accept the truth. I'm sure it hurts your pride to even think about it, but you can stop your racism by facing the truth.

John Dutko

LOL... your mish-mosh of word salad is stupid and makes you sound like a Batman villain reject.

If you are going to argue something, do it. Don't say "Well, the FBI says this..." and you don't provide any evidence to back it up. We all have access to the best invention since the printing press. Some of us know better resources due to exposure and/or occupation.

Be a better person. Your "elephant in the room" is a great way to get threads locked down and invite agitating comments under the guise of searching for "the truth".

Robert Austin

You don't like to be told the truth. It really hurts your narrative, boy.

John Dutko

OHHH you're one of those people who looks for signs of a coming apocalypse within the tea leaves of the internet.

The truth is that nobody likes you gramps. You are not a popular person and people talk behind your back. You prolly lost a bunch of friends the last two years due to your views. And that's ok.

You can become a pariah if you want to. And the rest of us will be better off.

Robert Segall

The link you shared shows blacks commit disproportionately more murders, assaults, and robberies than any other race, while whites and other races fall in line with expected deviation.

Lance Livestrong

"Glad to see you alive and kicking under your new moniker."

Right back at ya J.D., appreciating your breakdown of the data and some of the satire/creative writing in your other posts, its a good time for all.

[beam]

Lynne June

We will always support our police, and from talking with many others, they feel the same way. There is respect and admiration for individuals who put their lives on the line every day just to keep us safe. As in every job, there are going to be outliers who do not behave as they should. The vast majority are valiant people who deserve our respect.

Josie Wales

Considering the most of the FFPD daily routine involves running radar and pulling over people for tint violations, I am not sure that you can really say that these officers are putting their lives on the line any more than the county tax collectors. Its not like they are Baltimore or Philly cops, they dont actually do anything. Thats why the crime rate is increasing in NOVA

John Dutko

There's a reason NWA didn't make the song "F*** tha Firefighters"

Bill Rio

Demonize an entire industry and people are curious why no one wants to be a cop? Maybe the loons in charge of Fairfax should start searching for social workers.

Robert Segall

Bad cops showing themselves out the door as far as I'm concerned. God forbid there is accountability for unwarranted actions, that's basic civility 101.

Tp Ll

Lol if you think the cops who are leaving are the bad ones

Robert Austin

The black community should be more accountable then, right? Per capita, blacks commit more crimes in the US than any other racial group. You "woke" libs like use "disproportionate" a lot of times, but not when it's counter to your agenda. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/tables/table-43

John Dutko

You didn't read the link you provided. Nor the tables. Or any of the data displayed.

You googled a term, picked the top link, gave it a quick glance, and threw it up on the message board thinking we wouldn't actually look at it.

I hate it when people are confidently incorrect.

Josie Wales

While I am not a fan of law enforcement,

you have to remember that the same group of people who get into brawls at waffle house and Chucky cheese are the same ones that can't control themselves during a police encounter and everybody is shocked when things go side ways. We are not talking about normal functioning people here, the same person decided to punt some 15 year old chicks head, not two seconds later expressed disbelief that some 15 year old chick got ventilated trying to stab someone. Saying the police are the issue is akin to complain about weeds in the front yard when your house is engulfed in flames. At this point one could only say, yeah man.. those weeds are really messed up man. hope it all works out for you. i am just going to pack my stuff and move along.

Joe Christmas

"""According to the national NAACP, black people are five times more likely than whites to be stopped by police without just cause,"""

The NAACP has a much different definition of "just" than others do....

Tp Ll

Interesting how the people unjustly killed inFairfax have actually been white

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