The Fairfax County Police Department has agreed to undergo an independent review of its policies and practices after seeing an increase in shootings by officers over the past year.
The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a D.C.-based nonprofit that has looked at the department before, will conduct a “broad examination” of officer shootings since 2021 to “identify any performance patterns, deficiencies, or trends,” the FCPD said today (Friday).
“PERF will share training and policy recommendations to ensure FCPD continues to adopt industry best practices,” the department said. “PERF will begin its work immediately and will present its findings and recommendations to FCPD in a brief report.”
In the news release, Police Chief Kevin Davis stresses that the review will not constitute “a focused, independent examination” of the most recent shooting, where two officers shot and killed Timothy McCree Johnson in response to an alleged shoplifting attempt at Tysons Corner Center on Feb. 22.
Johnson’s mother and local civil rights groups have called for an independent investigation into the incident, questioning why officers used their firearms on a man accused of only stealing sunglasses and Davis’s description of Johnson as someone with a “violent criminal history” in the shooting’s immediate aftermath.
PERF previously reviewed the FCPD’s use-of-force policy and practices in 2015 as part of the county’s effort to reform the department after Springfield resident John Geer was fatally shot in 2013.
With this new review, the nonprofit will provide guidance on a potential policy dictating when officers should engage in foot chases, according to police.
The Fairfax County NAACP and ACLU People Power Fairfax have urged the FCPD to adopt a foot pursuit policy in the wake of Johnson’s death, noting that one was recommended by a separate 2021 use-of-force study by the University of Texas.
Fairfax County police officers have been involved in eight shootings since Davis became chief in 2021, including six incidents in 2022. According to FCPD data, there were nine officer-involved shootings total from 2013 to 2020.
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