McLean District police officers are now equipped with body-worn cameras after the Fairfax County Police Department recently rolled out the second phase of its program.
The FCPD announced yesterday (Monday) that it finished deploying body cameras to its McLean and Franconia District Stations last week, adding 218 trained and equipped camera operators to the county’s police force.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust welcomed the news of the program expansion in a statement to Tysons Reporter.
“I am pleased with the progress the Police Department is making toward full implementation,” Foust said. “While body worn cameras require a substantial initial investment and recurring cost, the cost is more than justified by the transparency and accountability the cameras provide.”
There are 132 sworn officers and 28 civilian staff members at the McLean District Station, which covers Merrifield, Dunn Loring, Falls Church, McLean, Tysons, and Great Falls. The Franconia District Station has approximately 140 officers and 30 civilians whose coverage area includes Annandale, Springfield, and Lorton.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a body camera program for the entire police department in September 2019 after introducing the technology with a pilot program in 2018.
Expected to take three years for full implementation, the program’s first year saw cameras distributed to the Reston, Mason, and Mount Vernon District stations, where all officers have been trained and utilizing the cameras since the spring of 2020. Those stations had also been included in the original pilot.
Budget constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic led the Board of Supervisors to initially delay funding for the body camera program’s second phase, which was previously supposed to include 338 cameras for the McLean, Sully, and West Springfield stations.
However, the board later moved to accelerate the program’s rollout in an effort to prioritize policing reform in light of nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, 2020 and video of a Fairfax County police officer assaulting a Black man.
“As we have seen from many incidents across the country, these cameras are an indispensable tool for providing an accurate account of events that often are disputed by the parties involved,” Foust said. “Body worn cameras can protect our residents and our police officers by providing accurate accounts of police-civilian confrontations.”
Now aiming to introduce all 1,210 cameras in the program by the end of Fiscal Year 2021, the FCPD says it is coordinating scheduling to ensure that officers at the remaining Fair Oaks District, West Springfield District, and Sully District Stations are trained and equipped in the upcoming months.
The department is also working to expand the program to Animal Protection Police and parking enforcement officers as well as its special operations division and SWAT teams and the Diversion First initiative at the Merrifield Crisis Response Center.
The FCPD estimated in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors last June that it will cost a total of $4.5 million to implement the program’s second and third phases.
According to Jane Edmondson, the chief of staff for Foust’s office, the board identified net funding of $604,000 to cover the expansion of the body camera program as part of the FY 2021 budget carryover process. The program’s recurring impact is expected to be roughly $4.4 million, which must be incorporated in the FY 2022 budget.
County Executive Bryan Hill is scheduled to present his budget proposal on Feb. 23.
Photo via Fairfax County Police