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

by Karen Goff — July 19, 2016 at 10:00 am 5 Comments

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.

  • Ming the Merciless

    The premise that the race of those involved in the incidents should correspond closely with the racial makeup of the County is totally false.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    How is it that it’s okay to make an issue of the race of the cops when it comes to undeserved violence, but heaven forbid we should take about race when undeserved violence doesn’t involve cops?

  • Reston Realist

    The ethnic make-up of the alleged victims of the excessive force is in a very large part irrelevant. What is most concerning is the attitude the FCPD has towards all its citizens. In the 40 years I have lived in Reston, I have been appalled by the typical drill-sergeant attitude these cops exhibit. It appears to me that they are trained to be belligerent tough guys with little regard as to who is at the other end of their attitude.

    • John Higgins

      Your view is your view, but I hope readers appreciate that it is based on an undefined baseline of expectations. With approximately the same length of residence in Fairfax, I coud not disagree more. These men and women are not daycare workers. They do one of the toughest jobs in civilian society, experiencing some of the worst side of the people they have to interact with. Emotional detachment and 100% focus on the job at hand is important to maintaining their own sanity when having to perform a distasteful task with their “customers”. Do a ride-along one day, it will give a whole new perspective on what they face, day-in and day-out.

  • susie

    A few months ago, there was a loud knock on my door – it was an FCP officer. Nervously, I opened the door – the officer had come to my house to inform me that my wallet was found and waiting to be picked up at the Reston police station. Let’s pray and support our police – they need it now.

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