Interim FCPD Police Chief to Focus on Listening, Safety, and Transition

Last week marked Interim Fairfax County Police Chief David M. Rohrer’s first days on the job.

According to Sergeant Hudson Bull of Fairfax County Police Department, Rohrer’s top priorities will be providing a smooth transition to the next police chief and ensuring “community safety.”

Responding directly to reports of low morale and continued skepticism of leadership among rank-and-file officers, Bull noted that the new interim chief is working to dispel this notion.

“Chief Rohrer wants to make sure that community members, county employees, and officers are confident in the leadership of the department,” Bull told Tysons Reporter’s affiliate site, Reston Now. “[He’s] focused on listening to officers and moving the department forward…Chief Rohrer is thankful for officers’ dedication and professionalism during these challenging times.”

FCPD declined requests for a phone interview with Rohrer, saying that Rohrer is focusing on “providing a smooth transition for the next chief of police.”

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors selected Rohrer to take over for retiring Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler on Jan. 27.

This isn’t new territory for Rohrer. He previously served as the Fairfax County Police Department’s chief from 2004 to 2012, when he was promoted to deputy county executive overseeing public safety. In that position, he oversees the department, which consists of about 1,400 police officers, as well as the fire and rescue department and other county public safety agencies.

He will remain deputy county executive even as he takes on this new responsibility.

“I work closely with Deputy County Executive Rohrer on a daily basis and I could not be more confident in his ability to see the Police Department through this period while we search for a new chief,” Fairfax County Executive Bryan J. Hill wrote in a statement to The Washington Post late last month.

Rohrer’s personality and management style, in 2012, was described as deliberate, not “flamboyant,” and hard-working.

While Rohrer’s second tenure as police chief may be brief, it comes at a time when the department is in the midst of significant change.

During his eight years as chief, Roessler implemented nearly 200 reform efforts including body-worn cameras for all officers, a citizen review panel, de-escalation training, and a diversion program for people with mental health challenges. Much of this was done in the wake of the 2013 fatal police shooting of an unarmed Springfield man.

However, efforts to reform the FCPD has gotten some pushback from rank-and-file officers. That tension became particularly acute after an officer was arrested for assault over the summer for using a stun gun and unnecessary force on a Black man who did not appear to be combative.

FCPD spokesperson Sergeant Hudson Bull wrote to Reston Now that Rohrer is prioritizing continuing the county’s reputation as being safe.

“Chief Rohrer wants to focus on ensuring that our County remains one of the safest jurisdictions in the country by supporting our officers and remaining attentive to the needs of our community members,” he wrote.

Bull says Rohrer’s experience and institutional knowledge made him a perfect fit for this temporary job as a nationwide search for a permanent replacement for Roessler continues. The Board of Supervisors is expected to announce its selection in late March or early April.

“The Chief’s vast experience in public safety provides him with insight and knowledge to be able to make the best possible decisions regarding important public safety matters for our community,” Bull wrote. “His long tenure with Fairfax County gives him intimate knowledge of the public safety function that is provided within our county government.”

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