Chairman Bulova Creates Commission to Review Police Policies
February 20, 2015 – Chairman Sharon Bulova announced today the creation of an ad hoc commission to review Fairfax County Police Department policies and practices. Chairman Bulova will seek the Board's endorsement at their March 3 meeting.
“Fairfax County is the safest jurisdiction of its size in the nation, due in no small part to the hard work and dedication of our public safety personnel.” Chairman Bulova stated. The Fairfax County Police Department, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has long served and protected our community, and through a model of community policing has built and maintained the public trust and confidence. The Board of Supervisors and the Police Department recognize the importance of maintaining that public trust and the importance of always reviewing policies and practices and seeking to improve.
“Our Board has been taking a hard look at our policies involving the timing and manner of releasing information in the case of critical police-involved incidents. This effort can be greatly enhanced by engaging with the community in an open, transparent way,” Chairman Bulova said. “This Commission will be charged with recommending changes to Fairfax County policies that would help us achieve our goal of maintaining a safe community, ensuring a culture of public trust and making sure our policies provide for the fair and timely resolution of police-involved incidents.”
The Ad Hoc Commission will review all Police Department policies related to critical incidents including how and when information is released to the public. Policies to be reviewed include FCPD policies related to use-of-force training policies, threat assessments, and the Internal Affairs Division. The Commission will also review practices related to the release of information, and will consider the roles of Police Public Information Officers and the Office of Public Affairs, along with the relationship between the FCPD and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
The Commission will have the opportunity to review two ongoing efforts at the County – a Board-directed search for independent expertise on the public release of information related to critical officer-involved incidents, and an ongoing review of the Police Department's use-of-force and critical incident response policies, training, and practices.
Outside organizations, many of which will be invited to participate as Commission members, will be asked to explore models for investigation of serious police-involved incidents that are different from what is currently the practice in Fairfax County, as well as best practices used by law enforcement to keep the public informed about critical incidents.
Chairman Bulova appointed Michael Hershman to chair the Ad Hoc Commission. Hershman is the founder of the Fairfax Group and an expert in government and corporate accountability and transparency. He currently serves as one of two citizen appointees to the Board of Supervisors Audit Committee.
“Fairfax County has a long history of public engagement and we've been well served by having the community at the table when making important policy decisions. I look forward to working with the Commission to ensure that our community continues to be the safest of its size in the country,” Chairman Bulova said.
Chairman Bulova will announce the membership of the Commission at the March 3 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Board Matter to be Presented March 3