Arlington volunteer-run oversight board now active, allows investigations into police complaints

Complaints against police in Arlington County, Virginia, can now be investigated by the county’s newly established oversight board and auditor.

This Community Oversight Board can also evaluate law enforcement procedures, create reports on use of force incidents and make recommendations to the Arlington County Board or the police, according to the Memorandum of Understanding reached by the oversight board and the Arlington County Police Department on Tuesday.

The auditor adds a layer of quality control for police practices and will help the oversight board whenever disciplinary action is being taken against an officer.

“I am really looking forward to this group opening its doors to the community,” Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I think this is going to be a really critical piece of trust building across Arlington.”

The volunteer-run oversight board is now active with seven voting members and two nonvoting members. One of the nonvoting seats remains vacant.

Oversight board members were required to familiarize themselves with the county’s police department before taking their seats. That included 12 hours of ride-alongs with officers, multiple training sessions with the police department and spending a day at the police academy.

The MOU also grants the oversight board subpoena power under certain conditions, which allows the board to compel police to share witness statements or other pieces of evidence.

Arlington County legislators debated on whether granting the volunteer-run board subpoena power was appropriate during its creation in 2021, but ultimately voted in favor of it.

“I recognize some people believe that oversight is a punitive action, and I just want to stress that, as a board, we have never viewed it as such,” Christian Dorsey, the Arlington County Board Chair, said at the meeting. “We view it as part of an essential part of what our desire is — to have everything in Arlington reach the level of greatness and maximum benefit that it can possibly have.”

Dana Sukontarak

Dana Sukontarak is a Digital Writer/Editor for She loves haiku poetry, short sci-fi stories and word games. She grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and currently lives in Silver Spring.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up