202

Fairfax Co.’s civilian police review panel seeks members

WASHINGTON — If you’re interested in serving on Fairfax County’s first Civilian Review Panel, you have until the end of the month to apply.

“We’re looking for individuals, first of all, who are active within the community, have some knowledge of public safety, [and] maybe have some knowledge of law enforcement,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova.

The panel will evaluate allegations of police misconduct and abuse of authority that are investigated within the police department. It also will receive citizen complaints of police action that will then be forwarded to investigators to evaluate.

In both cases, Bulova said, people with complaints will be able to work through the panel to assure that an investigation was done correctly, thoroughly and fairly.

“It really provides some independent checks and balances,” Bulova said. “And [it] provides a resident with more of an opportunity than they’ve ever had before to have a good hearing, a very good airing of something that has happened.”

Applicants should be able to review complaints knowledgeably but impartially and fairly. The panel is not open to county employees or people with any kind of relationship with or connection to the county police department. — “so that there is indeed independence,” Bulova said.

The volunteer, unpaid nine-member panel will have a chair who initially will be appointed by the board of supervisors.

When the panel is seated and begins meetings, it will create operating bylaws to determine how it will run — for example, what time of day and how frequently meetings will be held.

The review panel was established at the recommendation of an ad hoc police commission created after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man.

John Geer was killed in the doorway of his Springfield, Virginia, home in August 2013 by former police officer Adam Torres, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Fairfax County received hundreds of recommendations from the commission in November 2015 to improve county policing and has now addressed more than 88 percent of them.

“That’s a big deal,” Bulova said. She thanks and credits the cooperation and teamwork of Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. in helping accomplish so many of the commission’s recommendations, thus far.

To apply

If you want to apply yourself, or nominate someone else, submit a resume and 1- to 2-page cover letter explaining how you, or the nominee, fit the criteria. It needs to be in by Jan. 31.

You can mail it to

Clerk to the Board of Supervisors
Attn: Catherine Chianese
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 533
Fairfax, VA 22035

Or email ClerktotheBOS@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The board hopes to make selections next month. If you have questions, call Bulova’s chief of staff, Clayton Medford, at 703-324-2321.


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.