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Police Auditor Chooses Research Team for FCPD Use-of-Force Study

A research team from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) will study use-of-force incidents by Fairfax County police.

About nine months ago, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed Police Auditor Richard Schott to find an academic after a study released almost three years ago found that 40 percent of use-of-force cases in 2015 involved Black people.

After the study was released, Schott reviewed the police department’s data, but several of the supervisors called for more data.

The county announced today (Wednesday) a contract was awarded to a research team from UTSA in partnership with researchers from the University of Cincinnati on Jan. 27.

The study is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2021, the press release said.

More from the press release:

The study will build upon previous Independent Police Auditor’s reviews of Fairfax County Police Department’s (FCPD) use-of-force incidents. It is intended to identify patterns and trends in uses of force by the FCPD with emphasis on racial, ethnic, gender, or similar disparities across subpopulations.

The study will address the following questions specific to incidents that occurred between 2016-2018:

What factors or combination of factors contribute to the use-of-force by FCPD officers? Specifically, what role does civilian race, ethnicity, gender, or similar personal characteristics play in the decision to use force?

Does the rate of force experienced by persons of different races and/or ethnicities align with those groups’ representation among persons at risk for having force used against them by the police? Do disparities exist in rates of force experienced by different racial and/or ethnic groups relative to risk?

Is civilian race, ethnicity, or gender-related to the level of force used by the police while accounting for resistance and other relevant individual, situational, and environmental factors?

How can the FCPD improve its use-of-force data collection processes to help facilitate future analyses?

What steps can the FCPD take to help reduce bias in use-of-force incidents?

“The UTSA team will issue a public report detailing the study’s methods, findings, conclusions, and recommendations and present it to the Board of Supervisors,” the press release said.

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