Fairfax Co. commission seeks public input on police response

WASHINGTON — A special commission examining how the Fairfax County police department responds to emergency calls wants to hear from residents on Monday night.

A public meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Walt Whitman Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia.

“This is really part of a very intensive, very comprehensive process that we’re going through to examine the way we respond to emergency situations,” says Fairfax County Chairwoman Sharon Bulova.

Bulova organized the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission, which is made up of law enforcement and community members. The commission was formed after the death of John Geer, in Springfield, Virginia. Geer was unarmed when he was shot by former Fairfax County police officer Adam Torres during a domestic dispute call at Geer’s home. Torres was indicted by a special grand jury in August on second degree murder charges for the 2013 shooting death.

Jeff Stewart was Geer’s friend and was there the day Geer was shot in the doorway of his home.

“It an opportunity for the commission to recognize that there is a lot of folks out there that have been complaining and have gotten nowhere,” says Stewart, who also serves on the commission.

The commission is examining the police department’s policies regarding use of force, working with individuals suffering from mental illness, communications and recruitment. It is also deciding whether an independent oversight board should be established to listen to serious complaints from citizens involving members of the police department.

Bulova says some recommendations that have come from the commission, such as delaying weapons training for new recruits, have already been implemented by the police department. The special commission’s final recommendations are expected to be presented to the board in mid-October.
“I hope the supervisors recognize the need and importance of implementing some of these recommendations,” Stewart says.

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