DC based police think tank investigating Fairfax Co.’s policing policies

Following last week’s shooting death by Fairfax County police officers of a suspect who stole sunglasses, the department’s policies are being put under the microscope.

The police department called in the Police Executive Research Forum, a D.C.-based think tank that focuses on critical issues in policing.

“Chief [Kevin] Davis reached out to us to ask us if we could look at some recent incidents of police officer involved use of force, and then look at their training and look at their policy and see if there any recommendations,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of PERF.

While the Feb. 23 shooting death of 37-year-old theft suspect Timothy McCree Johnson at Tyson’s Corner Center has recieved a lot of media attention over the past week, it’s not the only thing the chief wants PERF to look into.

“Chief Davis said, not only do I want you to look at what happened here, but more importantly is to look at the big picture. We’ve had a few incidents during the course of the past year. Take a look at that, look at our policy and training,” Wexler said.

PERF has looked into Fairfax County Police before, previously making recommendations about use of force incidents in the past.

The think tank won’t only be looking into the shooting aspect of this case but also the foot chase.

“That is an issue not only in Fairfax County, but around the country in terms of developing policy around when you decide to have a foot pursuit or not,” Wexler said, “What can we learn from some of the incidents in the most recent past? And recommendations we can make as it relates to foot pursuit? When do you pursue someone, under what circumstances and why?”

PERF’s review will look through incidents from the past couple of years.

They are looking for patterns and deficiencies in their policies or training.

Reviewers will pore over body-worn camera footage, policies and reports. They will talk to officers and look at current training practices.

There could be preliminary findings released relatively soon.

“In this particular case, we’re inclined to look as quickly as we can to provide the county with recommendations,” Wexler said, “We will get involved next week, and we will work as quickly as we can to at least provide the county with some immediate observations of things they could be doing.”

After those initial recommendations, they will put together a more formal report which will be released at a later date.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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

Sign up