Fairfax County creates commission to review police policies

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted in favor of establishing a commission that will take a long hard look at the practices and policies of the county's police department.

It is a decision that comes in the wake of a number of high-profile police shootings and the way information was or was not provided to the public.

The board voted 7 to 3 in favor of establishing the commission, which will take a long hard look at the best practices and come up with what the chairman described as suggestions on how to maintain the public's confidence and trust.

It is a trust that has been shaken with the shooting death of John Geer by the police and the long wait for answers.

Three of the county supervisors voted against the idea with Michael Frey voicing perhaps the most critical comments.

"This is not a logical, well thought out reaction and response and decision to review the situation," he said. "This is a reaction to the latest nasty story in the media."

Frey, who represents the Sully District in the county, said that he thinks the commission will interfere with the ongoing investigations into the shooting of Geer and the county was already reviewing best practices in efforts separate from the proposed commission.

But Chairman Sharon Bulova says not so. The purpose is universal and will not focus on one case.

"This commission should recommend changes consistent with Virginia law that the commission feels would help Fairfax County to achieve its goal of maintaining a safe community, ensuring a culture of public trust and making sure our policies provide for the fair and timely resolution of police-involved incidents," she said.

Geer had his hands in the air while standing in the doorway of his home in August of 2013 when Fairfax County Police Officer Adam Torres fired one round into his chest.

Geer was unarmed and was shot as witnesses, including other officers, say he began to slowly lower his hands.

But getting that basic information took well over a year, and not before a lawsuit was filed by the family, and a judge ordered it be released.

"Certainly a majority of our residents have tremendous faith in our public safety agencies, and so this is not an indictment of that, more a review of policies and procedures to see if there are improvements we can make and will collectively benefit us all," said supervisor Jeff McKay.

Chairman Bulova said she hopes to have recommendations from the commission by October 1.

The commission will be made up of police officers representing unions and associations as well as lawyers, citizens and members of the media.