Reston, VA

The Fairfax County Police Department is seeking a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for additional non-ballistic riot helmets with riot face shields.

With the unanimous approval of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a Tuesday meeting, FCPD will apply for $114,017 in funding through the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) in order to purchase 370 helmets and face shields.

Currently, FCPD has 120 riot helmets which are primarily used by its Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU). JAG grants are used to provide states and units of local government to support law enforcement equipment, crime prevention programs, technological improvements, and other resources.

In a staff memo, Deputy County Executive David Rohrer and FCPD Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. noted that the purpose of the grant is to replace some aged equipment, boost office safety, and “increase the capability of the police department to respond to incidents of civil unrest within Fairfax County.”

“Protective equipment is not required for every situation CDU handles, but must be available when needed to protect officers,” they wrote.

Jeff McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, clarified that the riot gear is not military-grade and no county dollars will be used for the effort.

“It is for the protection of those officers should something be needed but obviously these are personal protective devices, not military-grade equipment, that could be deployed in the event of civil unrest, which we’ve been blessed not to have here in Fairfax County,” McKay said at the Tuesday meeting.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who supported the grant application, also sought additional clarification on the purpose of more riot gear.

“We’re not exactly anticipating a dramatic upsurge in civil unrest are we? I wouldn’t think we are.”

He also clarified that the board “reinforces the right to peaceful protest.”

“We’re not going to down a different road with approval of this.”

Photo via FCPD

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