New Fairfax Co. chief aims to reduce police chases

The new police chief in Fairfax County, Virginia’s most populous county, wants to reduce the number of circumstances that would merit pursuing drivers, with the hope of reducing danger to drivers, bystanders and officers.

If Chief Kevin Davis’ pursuit policy is implemented, it would be a major change in Fairfax County. Until now, Fairfax County officers have had the most latitude in the region to utilize the potentially dangerous tactic.

In a presentation before the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee, Davis said under the revised policy, officers would no longer be allowed to launch a pursuit if the only reason to pursue was a traffic violation.

Davis’ proposal would eliminate pursuits for misdemeanors, including those with the threat or use of violence, as well as nonviolent felonies.

Situations that could merit a pursuit include a violent felony, a serious crime with the threat or use of a firearm and the pursuit of motorcycles. Commanders could authorize pursuits for certain circumstances, and Fairfax County officers could assist neighboring departments, if the chase would meet the county’s new proposed standards.

Davis told the committee he’ll seek community input and listen to feedback from officers and supervisors in June, with hopes of the policy becoming official by July.

In April, a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge overturned the 2019 conviction of a Black D.C. firefighter, saying the case was built on false representations from the arresting county officer during a stop for a traffic violation.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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