Report: More Than 500 Use of Force Complaints to FCPD in 2015

Fairfax County Police The Fairfax County Police have released a new report detailing use of force incidents — and the potential racial disparities in those incidents — in the county last year.

The report shows there were 539 use of force incidents investigated county supervisors in 2015. Of those, 57 proceeded to administrative investigations. In one of the cases, a use of force violation was found, and a reprimand was issued, the report shows.

Fifty-two percent (282 of the incidents) involved persons police identified as white; 222 subjects identified as black (41 percent); 18 identified as Hispanic (4 percent); and 17 identified as Asian (3 percent).

How that compares to Fairfax County’s population: Only 8 percent of Fairfax County’s 1.1 million residents are black; 16 percent Hispanic; and 63 percent are to be white.

The officers involved in the incidents were largely white men, the report shows (740 of the 985 officers involved). The department’s racial breakdown: 83 percent of officers are white; 7 percent are black; and 5 percent are Hispanic.

The report shows 98 percent of the time, civilians in the use of force complaints were unarmed. The most common type of use of force used by police was physical contact, followed by stun gun and pointed gun, the report states. A gun was discharged by an officer just once in 2015.

Meanwhile, on the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee will review recommendations on Tuesday for increased civilian oversight of the police department issued by a commission formed after the 2013 police shooting of an unarmed man in Springfield.

The FCPD received criticism in that case for not releasing information, including the officer’s name, for about a year. It eventually did, and officer Adam Torres was charged. He recently took a plea deal was sentenced to a year in jail (but was promptly released for time served since he had been in custody nearly that long).

The public safety committee, which all supervisors typically attend, has a draft document before it that would create a new, independent police officer who would report to the Board of Supervisors in cases of police use of force that lead to serious injury or death, and a new civilian review panel that would respond to community concerns about “alleged incidents of abuse of authority.”

In addition to members of the commission that made the recommendations, representatives from the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement are expected to be included in the meeting in an advisory role.

In an additional police department report released Monday, the police department said the largest number of disciplinary actions last year were tied to operation of police vehicles. Six officers resigned or were fired in connection with disciplinary actions: one for custody of property, one over ethics and integrity, one for insubordination and three over standard of conduct.

The Reston District reported 41 use of force cases. The most use of force reports came out of the Mount Vernon (87) and Mason districts (85), followed by the McLean District (64) and Criminal Investigations Bureau (61).

See additional reports and analysis on Chief Edwin Roessler’s web page.

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