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After policy set, Fairfax Co. police to test body-worn cameras

This Dec. 11, 2014 file photo shows a body-worn camera being used as part of a pilot project in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke File)

FAIRFAX, Va. — Fairfax County police are expected to begin testing body-worn cameras later this year, after the police department completes — and the Board of Supervisors approves — a set of guidelines governing the use of the cameras. 

Policy must still be nailed down on issues including how best to protect privacy; when cameras are to be turned on and off; when it’s appropriate to redact video and how long video should be retained.

“The goal is to start the pilot project as soon as possible. Whether that is July or sometime after Labor Day will depend on the work ahead,” said Chief Edwin Roessler with Fairfax County police.

The Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee has set a mid-June deadline for final submission of body-worn camera policy. Once the policy is in place, police will conduct a pilot program with the cameras for 90 days or more.

“My intent is to have two vendors for the pilot project and test and evaluate at two different police district stations,” Roessler said, indicating that two different brands of body-worn cameras will be tested.

While Fairfax County began discussing body-worn cameras in 2014, the program has lagged behind others in the area.

All D.C. police officers are equipped with the cameras, about 900 are in use in Montgomery County and Arlington has a pilot program underway involving 25 officers and sheriff’s deputies. Prince George’s County police say they are implementing the first phase of their program during the first three months of this year.

“I don’t think it’s taking too long. I think the Board and staff are committed to this, and I think we’re doing it right,” said Fairfax County Executive Ed Long.

Fairfax has set aside about $1.9 million to evaluate and then launch its police body-worn camera program.


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