on sale now at amazon

on sale now at amazon
"I don't like this book because it don't got know pictures" Chief Rhorerer

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”
“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

Outrage As Fairfax County Police Use AR-15s To Kill Deer: Report


Locals are worried that using such weapons instead of bows or shotguns puts civilians at risk.
By Dan Taylor, Patch Staff | Nov 10, 2017 1:52 pm ET

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA -- Some members of the community are upset after hearing that Fairfax County police will be killing deer this season using AR-15 rifles, according to a report.
NBC Washington reports that Fairfax County Police will use AR-15s to help control the deer population in the Alexandria area starting in mid-November and continuing until mid-March.
"Even though the police say they shoot down as it's supposed to be safe, we just feel that you can't ever rule out weapons malfunction or human error," resident Nancy Schoenig said, according to the report.
Police say it's necessary for them to cull the deer population using AR-15s because it has gotten out of control, and AR-15s are the most accurate and humane way to do it.
AR-15s have been used in numerous mass shootings in recent years. The issue has sparked a big debate on NBC Washington's Facebook page, with some saying that AR-15s should be used and other saying it's much ado about nothing.
"Use a crossbow on the deer," commented John Perman. "Then butcher it and sell the meat. I'd rather people use a bow and arrow in a highly populated area. Also in more rural areas, only single shot rifles should be allowed. No semi automatic or automatic with 15 to 20 rounds."
Dian Rosen-Cornwell said that police do this at Frying Pan Park in Herndon as well, and the meat is donated to local food pantries. "I'm much more concerned about the random angry white guy with an AR-15 than trained police shooting a deer. Perspective people," she said.
Bill Johnson said that "any knowledgeable hunter" would say that an AR-15 is a "stupid choice of weapon, and will endanger civilian lives." He recommended a shotgun instead.
Phil Dee called concern about AR-15s "hysteria."

"As another poster mentioned, an AR-15 is NOT an automatic rifle," he wrote. "It's not going to fire like the Vegas shooter fired unless it's equipped with a bump stock. The police departments aren't going to go out hunting for deer using bump stocks, that's just absurd."

ACLU Asks Virginia Supreme Court to Block Use of Automated License Plate Readers


RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday asked the Virginia Supreme Court to stop the state from using automated license plate readers which they contend impermissibly surveil  innocent drivers.
The ACLU is representing Harrison Neal, a resident of Fairfax County.
The Fairfax County Police Department has repeatedly argued there are no civil rights issues associated with the use of the technology because the database for the automated readers is a “closed system” and not “married “to other networks that would allow for a comparison with other data on an individual.
But Neal’s attorneys said connecting the dots through the systems is an easy matter for law enforcement and so the passive collection of data is a violation of Virginia motorists’ Fourth Amendment rights.
Automated license plate readers have been in use for decades, The small camera systems are mounted on cars or in stationary positions, and when turned on, collect high resolution images of vehicles and their licenses plates.
A computer algorithm converts the license plate numbers into code, and combines them with timestamps and GPS locations tags. The data is then searchable through a database.
The ACLU says that database allows law enforcement to cross-reference the data with DMV and other records to determine whether the driver is a law-abiding citizen or someone wanted in connection with an unlawful activity.
In a November 2016 ruling in the case, Fairfax County Circuit Judge Robert Smith said “the database did not contain Neal’s name, address, date of birth or any information related to the registered owner of the vehicle associated with the … license plate number,” and denied Neal’s request for summary judgment.
“The only information stored as to the … license plate was the photographs, and the date, time and GPS coordinates of the locations where the photos were captured,” Judge Smith said.
Smith said based on these facts, the collection of data with the automated readers does not violate the law.
On Thursday, the ACLU said they disagree.
“Fairfax County has set its own rules,” said ACLU lawyer Ed Rosenthal.
According to Rosenthal, Neal’s “personal data” was discovered on the Fairfax County Police Department’s servers after he filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2015.
There was no reason for Neal’s data to be there because he was not the subject of a criminal investigation, Rosenthal said.
State Supreme Court Justice Stephen McCullough appeared to agree with this assertion, although he did take issue with aspects of an opinion filed by former state Attorney General Ken Cucinelli, which the ACLU pointed to in support of its position.
“… Data collected by an LPR may be classified as ‘criminal intelligence information; and thereby exempted from the Data Act’s coverage only if the data is … evaluated and determined to be relevant to criminal activity,” Cucinelli wrote in 2013.
McCullough said Cucinelli’s interpretation was too broad in its use of data “relating to ongoing investigations.”
Chief Justice Donald Lemons brought Monday’s terrorist attack in New York City into the discussion, saying that passive collection of driver information could be helpful in an investigation after a crime has been committed.
But Lemons wondered whether there should be limits to how long the collected data can be held.
“How long is long enough, how long is too long?” he asked Rosenthal.
The attorney said information not directly linked to a criminal investigation should not be retained at all.
Justice D. Arthur Kelsey then wondered if warnings of attacks or crimes could warrant passive collection. He asked if it would be appropriate for New York city police to turn on automated readers if the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security warned that an attack was imminent.
Rosenthal seemed to concede data collection was appropriate in this scenario. He pressed the words of the statute which says “information shall not be collected unless the need for it has been clearly established in advance,” calling that “particularized need” good enough.
But Rosenthal persisted, arguing that at its core, the case is about the database itself, and making sure the data is protected from being misused.
Fairfax County ‘s Assistant County Attorney Kim Baucom countered by returning the lower court’s decision, saying the law is narrow in its definition of “personal information,” and that Judge Smith was correct in concluding the data collection does not violate that law.
Baucom said Fairfax County Police officers, while able to access the database, their ability to compare the information with other municipal databases is very limited.
For instance, the officers can’t determine whether the owner of the vehicle was actually driving it when the license plate image was captured.
The court did not indicate when it will rule on the case.



On the illegal arrest of a reporter


BEWARE, YE foul-mouthed citizens of Fairfax County: The sensibilities of your police force are so delicate, their taste in language so virtuous, their ears so unsullied by rude speech that they regard the utterance of profanity as justification for a half-dozen of them to throw you to the ground, crush your head to the pavement with their knees, wrestle you into submission and arrest you.

A Fairfax ordinance seems to give the police carte blanche in this regard, proclaiming that “if any person profanely curse or swear or be drunk in public, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.”

The trouble is, the ordinance, like the police policy, is flatly unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court and lower tribunals have ruled repeatedly. And the Fairfax County police chief, Edwin C. Roessler Jr., only encouraged police to overreact and use gratuitous violence by offering an unqualified defense of some officers’ recent actions, even as the police opened an internal investigation of the incident that prompted the chief’s remarks.

The incident in question involved Mike Stark, a journalist who, while covering a political rally in Annandale last weekend, was confronted by an officer who told him to get on the sidewalk. (He was barely off it.) In a video of the incident, Mr. Stark, who works for Shareblue, a left-leaning website, is seen protesting: “I’m a f---ing reporter doing my job.”

Another officer informed him that if he swears again, “you’re going to jail.” Mr. Stark replied, “F--- this,” whereupon the police officer pounced, threw him to the ground, and, joined by reinforcements pinning him to the ground, handcuffed and arrested him. Ultimately, Mr. Stark was charged with disorderly conduct and avoiding arrest — not with swearing.

Mr. Stark may not have been wise in his dealing with the police. It’s equally true that the officers’ response was unprofessional, at the least. A citizen’s lack of social polish or politesse does not justify the officers’ use of violence. There’s no excuse for verbally abusing police officers, but in real life it happens plenty, and if police officers can’t take foul language directed at or used around them now and then, they’re in the wrong line of work. (The same goes for journalists.) At no time did Mr.Stark threaten the officers or anyone else.

Courts have been clear that, as Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote for the Supreme Court in Cohen v. California, a free-speech case in 1971, “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.” In that case, the court ruled that the First Amendment protected an individual’s right to wear a jacket inscribed with the words “F--- the Draft.” And while the court has exempted “fighting words” from First Amendment protections, those are generally considered language meant to incite others to violence. Mr. Stark may have been irascible and ill-tempered, but he was hardly trying to start a riot.

Fairfax County police have opened an internal investigation of Mr. Stark’s arrest. That’s a good thing. Mouthing off is not cause for arrest, let alone physical abuse by police.


Context, as usual, is everything.

I was targeted by the police for special enforcement at the request of Ed Gillespie's campaign, who I was there to cover. A campaign aide, seen in the video, asked the police to keep me away from the candidate, who has been evading all reporters - not just me - for many weeks now.

When the cop told me to get out of the road, I got out of the road. When he told me I couldn't go near the candidate, I told him he'd probably have to arrest me. Things escalated quickly from there.

But there were other people in the street and other people taking pics of Gillespie's bus. I was singled out.

So this was not a case of crowd control, or traffic management, or anything else. It was one reporter being singled out and told by police he would be arrested if he tried do his job because one candidate (a citizen like the rest of us) doesn't want to answer questions from unapproved, pre-vetted press.


That made me angry, and my language reflected that. 

Is it legal to curse at police? Hell yeah.



By Editorial Board November 3 at 7:31 PM

BEWARE, YE foul-mouthed citizens of Fairfax County: The sensibilities of your police force are so delicate, their taste in language so virtuous, their ears so unsullied by rude speech that they regard the utterance of profanity as justification for a half-dozen of them to throw you to the ground, crush your head to the pavement with their knees, wrestle you into submission and arrest you.
A Fairfax ordinance seems to give the police carte blanche in this regard, proclaiming that “if any person profanely curse or swear or be drunk in public, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.”
The trouble is, the ordinance, like the police policy, is flatly unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court and lower tribunals have ruled repeatedly. And the Fairfax County police chief, Edwin C. Roessler Jr., only encouraged police to overreact and use gratuitous violence by offering an unqualified defense of some officers’ recent actions, even as the police opened an internal investigation of the incident that prompted the chief’s remarks.
The incident in question involved Mike Stark, a journalist who, while covering a political rally in Annandale last weekend, was confronted by an officer who told him to get on the sidewalk. (He was barely off it.) In a video of the incident, Mr. Stark, who works for Shareblue, a left-leaning website, is seen protesting: “I’m a f---ing reporter doing my job.”
Another officer informed him that if he swears again, “you’re going to jail.” Mr. Stark replied, “F--- this,” whereupon the police officer pounced, threw him to the ground, and, joined by reinforcements pinning him to the ground, handcuffed and arrested him. Ultimately, Mr. Stark was charged with disorderly conduct and avoiding arrest — not with swearing.
Mr. Stark may not have been wise in his dealing with the police. It’s equally true that the officers’ response was unprofessional, at the least. A citizen’s lack of social polish or politesse does not justify the officers’ use of violence. There’s no excuse for verbally abusing police officers, but in real life it happens plenty, and if police officers can’t take foul language directed at or used around them now and then, they’re in the wrong line of work. (The same goes for journalists.) At no time did Mr.Stark threaten the officers or anyone else.
Courts have been clear that, as Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote for the Supreme Court in Cohen v. California, a free-speech case in 1971, “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.” In that case, the court ruled that the First Amendment protected an individual’s right to wear a jacket inscribed with the words “F--- the Draft.” And while the court has exempted “fighting words” from First Amendment protections, those are generally considered language meant to incite others to violence. Mr. Stark may have been irascible and ill-tempered, but he was hardly trying to start a riot.

Fairfax County police have opened an internal investigation of Mr. Stark’s arrest. That’s a good thing. Mouthing off is not cause for arrest, let alone physical abuse by police.

Video shows Fairfax County Police roughing up a reporter doing his job


Fairfax County police have opened an internal investigation after a reporter from a was taken to the ground and arrested Saturday following an argument with police officers as he was attempting to cover Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie.
During the incident, part of which was captured on video, Fairfax County police officers could be seen arguing with Shareblue Media’s Mike Stark before the confrontation grew physical and he was arrested at a parade in Annandale, Va.
Stark said Tuesday that police improperly handled the situation which began when a police officer asked him to stay away from a van carrying Gillespie as the parade was about to begin, Stark wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
Stark said he told the officer that he was a reporter and that he would be covering Gillespie, who is squaring off against Democratic nominee Ralph Northam in a race that has gained national attention.
In a portion captured on video that was filmed by someone other than Stark,  Stark is heard to say “I’m just a reporter doing my job,”
“If you curse again, you will go to jail,” a second officer later tells Stark.
The first officer then turns Stark around in an apparent effort to handcuff him and pushes him up against a fence. The two officers then struggle with Stark, before one pulls out Stark’s leg and pushes him facedown onto the sidewalk.
The two officers pile on Stark, who can be heard saying “Stop, I will give you my arm.” Stark is then swarmed by three other officers who help pin him down and attempt to handcuff him. Stark can be heard screaming, before he is eventually handcuffed.
One of the officers claims in the video that Stark is being arrested for public swearing, but court records show Stark was taken into custody for disorderly conduct and avoiding arrest. Shareblue said he was released on a $3,000 bond.
“I think they were letting me know who was boss,” Stark wrote in an email to The Post. “It was unnecessary, unlawful and violent, but not brutal.”

Stark said he suffered superficial wounds in the incident and refused medical treatment. 

Well isn't this interesting? They murder unarmed citizen yet lose thier ball when it comes to combatting the real bad guys

MS-13 has nearly as many members as police in one wealthy Virginia county
Combating the barbaric MS-13 gang is no easy task in one wealthy Virginia county where the group's membership is nearly equal to the number of cops trying to rein them in.
While U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made dismantling the notorious group a priority for his Justice Department, the gang’s membership is estimated to be as high as 10,000 in the United States -- and a good chunk of that membership was clustered in one Virginia community.
In affluent Fairfax County, Va., there were nearly 1,500 members, according to a 2015 police intelligence report. The report said there were about 2,000 members representing 80 different gangs in the county, however, 70 percent of the members were affiliated with MS-13, a police spokesperson told the Washington Post.
That means there were about 1,400 gang members affiliated with MS-13 in the county.
But things may be looking up.
According to an estimate given to the Post in June by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, there were roughly 900 to 1,100 MS-13 members in the greater Washington, D.C. region, of which Fairfax County makes up a large part.
Still, the number of Fairfax County police officers on the ground fighting MS-13 and other gangs is just slightly higher.
According to the 2015 report, the county’s police department had 1,722 employees, of which about 1,240 are officers on patrol and part of the organized crime and gang units combined. Also included in the total of 1,722 employees are staff members such as secretaries.
Fairfax County is the third wealthiest county in the United States, with a median household income of nearly $113,000, Forbes reported.
In the ongoing war to bring MS-13 to heel, Sessions designated the gang a top “priority” for his department, a move that directs prosecutors to pursue all legal avenues -- including racketeering, gun and tax laws -- to target the gang.
The new designation also lets local police departments tap into federal money to help pay for things such as wiretaps, interpreters and overtime related to cases involving the gang, but it does not mean all local MS-13 cases will qualify for extra funding, he said.

"MS-13 members brutally rape, rob, extort and murder," Sessions told hundreds of police executives at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia. "With more than 40,000 members worldwide, including 10,000 in the United States, MS-13 threatens the lives and well-being of each and every family everywhere they infest."

and its about fucking time

Fairfax County police propose body camera pilot program

·         By Angela Woolsey/Fairfax County TimesTop of Form
Bottom of Form
Fairfax County took one step closer to implementing a long-awaited pilot program for body-worn cameras on Tuesday when Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. presented his department’s proposal for such a program to county supervisors at a public safety committee meeting.
If approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the pilot program would provide a testing ground not only for officers and community members to learn how the cameras work, but also for Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) policies governing their use.
According to Roessler’s presentation, the proposed 90-day pilot program would involve the distribution of cameras to two of the department’s eight district stations and cost an estimated $676,152 to implement, a figure that covers both equipment costs and the cost of hiring support staff for the program.
The annual expense of storing data collected by the cameras is projected to be around $124,000.
Roessler says that the police department is currently in the final stage of a procurement process for the cameras with possible vendors and contractors, so he could not provide specific details on the companies involved or the number of FCPD officers that will participate in the pilot program.
However, the police department was responsible for determining length of the pilot program and selecting the Mount Vernon and Mason District stations as the ones that would receive cameras.
“They provide the most diversity in the community and also the diversity of the calls for service in different environments, urban and a little bit of suburban,” Roessler said regarding why he chose those two stations.
This is not the first time that Fairfax County has contemplated using body-worn cameras, which have emerged as a possible way to improve law enforcement agencies’ relationship with the communities they serve by increasing transparency.
Roessler presented a proposal for using body-worn cameras to the board of supervisors’ public safety committee on June 9, 2015, according to meeting minutes on the Fairfax County government website.
That meeting included discussions on policy creation, cost analysis, the technology involved, and the possibility of a pilot project.
Sully District station commander Capt. Robert Blakley laid out a draft policy and procedure for the use of body-worn cameras in a memo to FCPD command staff dated May 17, 2015 and included as an attachment to Roessler’s June 9, 2015 presentation.
According to the memo, the FCPD was “in the process of testing and evaluating different body-worn camera (BWC) systems” at the time.
The draft policy was developed using feedback from community stakeholders as well as recommendations on best practices put forth in a 2014 report on implementing a body-worn camera program by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
However, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors declined to take action, deciding instead “to wait on legislation working its way through the General Assembly,” according to an article in The Connection by Tim Peterson.
Supervisors directed county staff to keep the public safety committee “informed on all aspects of the body-worn camera issue,” according to the meeting minutes.
Roessler says that the market for body-worn cameras made them less feasible for Fairfax County at that time.
“There were only a few [vendors], and obviously, the cost was much higher back then for the equipment and the data storage,” the police chief said. “Since that time, the market has more competition, and the prices have drastically taken a nose dive.”
Demand for the FCPD to implement body cameras persisted, though.
A report published on Oct. 8, 2015 by an ad hoc police practices review commission included a mandate that Fairfax County police patrol officers wear body cameras to record all interactions with the public among its 202 recommendations.
The ad hoc commission was formed on Feb. 20, 2015 by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova in response to public frustration over the county’s handling of an investigation into the 2013 fatal shooting of Springfield resident John Geer by former FCPD Officer Adam Torres.
Roessler asked the county to initiate a request for proposals (RFP) during the public safety committee’s Dec. 13, 2016 meeting. The police department received 16 offers before the RFP period closed on Feb. 28, according to the police chief’s presentation.
Since then, in addition to negotiating with the potential vendors, the FCPD has been developing a new draft policy with guidelines for how officers should use the body cameras as well as how the footage will be used, accessed, and stored.
Led by FCPD Fair Oaks District Station Commander Capt. Chantel Cochrane, the department incorporated Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recommendations as well as feedback from community stakeholders, such as the Fairfax County NAACP, into the draft policy.
“This policy definitely balances privacy interests, civil liberty interests, and the safety of the officers,” said Cochrane, who previously provided an overview of the draft policy during the public safety committee’s June 13 meeting.
The FCPD general order laying out the draft policy can be found on the Fairfax County board committee meetings webpage, but Cochrane says that it would likely be tweaked and adapted throughout the pilot program.
To determine the effectiveness of both the pilot project and the draft policy, Roessler has brought in American University Department of Justice, Law and Criminology professors Richard R. Bennett and Brad Bartholomew.
American University has had a long-standing relationship with Fairfax County police, putting on trainings and other activities for the department, according to Bennett, who would be in charge of the pilot project evaluation.
Bennett, who worked as a patrolman and deputy sheriff in various jurisdictions before entering academia almost 40 years ago, plans to use an attitudinal survey to determine whether the body camera pilot is achieving its intended goals, which include reductions in the use of force by police officers and the number of community member complaints, as well as an increase in stakeholder and community satisfaction.
While the survey will be conducted using random-digit dialing, where participants are selected using randomly generated phone numbers, Bennett said they can over-sample certain demographics after Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck suggested that the survey should particularly focus on how minority community members are responding to the body camera program.
A report released by the FCPD in 2016 found that use-of-force incidents involve black citizens at a rate disproportionate to their overall population in Fairfax County. 41 percent of the incidents examined in the report involved subjects who identified as black, while only 8 percent of the county’s 1.1 million people are black.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity told Bennett and Bartholomew that the pilot project evaluation should also examine the impact of body cameras on police officers.
Multiple supervisors questioned whether 90 days would be a sufficient amount of time for researchers to accurately gauge the program’s effectiveness.
Bennett says that it is difficult to predict in advance how many incidents they will have to study, but Roessler noted that the pilot could potentially be expanded if necessary.
“Being a researcher, I always want more time, but you don’t always have the luxury of having the amount of time that you’d like,” Bennett said. “We’ll do the best evaluation that we can in the 90 days.”
According to Bennett, the pilot project evaluation and policy review could be completed within 15 days of the conclusion of the pilot program.
Braddock District Supervisor John Cook, who serves as chair of the public safety committee, set the Board of Supervisors’ Nov. 21 meeting as a tentative date for the board to vote on the proposed body-worn cameras pilot project.
If approved, the program would likely officially start sometime in February, since the FCPD needs about 100 days to install infrastructure for the technology and hire additional support staff, according to Roessler.

“We have 100 days prior to [the launch] where we need to train all of our officers,” Roessler said. “The equipment for the body-worn cameras is realistically the same as in-car video, so that’s why I’m comfortable we can get up and running rather quickly.”

Guest Editorial: Challenges Remain for Police Reform


Includes communications and body cameras.
From the McLean Connection

By Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner
#Oct. 8 will be the second anniversary of the 2015 release of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission Final Report. The catalyst for the Ad Hoc Commission’s formation by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was the August 2013 shooting death of John Geer. The commission was charged with assessing the Police Department’s performance against national best practices.
#The commission made more than 200 recommendations for transforming an excellent Police Department into one that is “best in class” and for strengthening the public’s trust and confidence in the department.
#I served as commission member and as the chairman of Use of Force Subcommittee. I am also a member of a loosely configured Implementation Committee, a group of former commission members dedicated to helping to see that our recommendations are effectively implemented.
#I commend both the Board of Supervisors (BOS) and Police Department for their progress implementing the commission’s recommendations. Significant reforms are underway that when fully realized will generate increased accountability and public confidence. Major reforms already in place include:
§  #forming the Office of the Independent Police Auditor to determine the thoroughness, completeness, accuracy, objectivity and impartiality of investigations of death or serious injury cases.
§  #convening a Civilian Review Panel to review civilian complaints regarding “abuse of authority” or “serious misconduct” by a police officer;
§  #creating “Diversion First,” which offers alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities; and
§  #recrafting the Use of Force General Order to enshrine sanctity of human life as an organizing principle, with de-escalation as the strategy of first resort when confronted with a threat rather than the use of deadly force.
#WHILE MUCH HAS BEEN accomplished, more is work is needed. For example, the commission advocated in strong terms for information-sharing reform to promote timeliness, completeness and transparency. In this regard, a revised Police Department Communication Policy is still in process.
#The commission also called for all officers to be outfitted with body worn cameras, contingent on the enactment of laws, policies and procedures that protect individual privacy. These cameras are to complement the dashboard cameras now mounted in each Fairfax patrol vehicle.
#While a potential aid to criminal prosecution, the body-worn camera’s equally important contribution is to foster greater transparency and the accountability of all parties during the interactions of the police with the public. As the American Civil Liberties Union noted in an October 2014 report, body-worn cameras “[have] the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse.”
#While the county leadership has committed to deploying this technology, its approach has been appropriately methodical. Key considerations are operational, privacy, data security and cost. For example, the supervisors have approved a pilot project that will deploy cameras in two of the county’s nine magisterial districts and the department is currently evaluating proposals from prospective suppliers.
#THIS PILOT PROJECT needs to generate answers to following questions, among others: the county needs to establish when cameras will be running and how will the public know the cameras are on? When can biometric technology – such as facial recognition – be used? How will the video footage be secured from hackers? Who will have access to the data and under what procedures?
#How will the massive amount of video data be stored and for how long? As the county understands and appreciates, the cost of deploying body-worn cameras is not in the cameras themselves, but the storage of the massive amount of data that is generated. As reported by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine, “When it comes to [body-worn cameras], data storage is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Video … is a data hog.”
#This reality generates cost-driven data-retention policy considerations. How long should non-evidentiary video be maintained? Some police departments say it should be 60-90 days, others say less or more. With regard to evidentiary data used in criminal prosecutions, the Virginia Commonwealth requires that evidence be stored for 99 years.
#Finally, who controls access to the data? This question is becoming an increasingly significant issue nationally. Protecting evidence chain-of-custody for purposes of criminal prosecution is a necessary but not sufficient role to warrant the cost and the data protection risks inherent in the deployment of body-worn cameras. The real return-on-investment is the potential for influencing the behavior, through greater transparency and accountability, of all parties in a law-enforcement engagement.
#The drive to use this technology is inexorable. A recent CATO Institute/YouGov poll found that 92 percent of the public supports the use of body-worn cameras. Implicit in this level of support are high public expectations that this technology will make a difference in law enforcement practices. Heightened expectations alone should give our policymakers pause, particularly when we know that no technology deployment is free of all mistakes and errors. The only thing worse in today’s context than not collecting the data during a controversial use-of-force incident, is for the public to learn that video data under the Police Department’s control is missing.
#We should therefore challenge the assumption that video-camera data must be maintained under the sole access control of the Police Department. Options that should be given explicit consideration by the Board of Supervisors, Police Department and Commonwealth’s Attorney include assigning video data access control to the Independent Police Auditor or alternatively assigning this role to a board composed of the Police Chief, Independent Auditor and Commonwealth’s Attorney.
#On this second anniversary of the Ad Hoc Policy Review Commission Report, the county and Police Department have many accomplishments to be proud of with regard to implementing the commission’s recommendations.
#Quality-driven change is hard; some changes are especially difficult. Body-worn camera deployment is one that requires careful study and diligent attention to complex legal and operational details. I commend the county for taking the appropriate measured response to meeting this recommendation and, especially with regard the matter of access to video data, challenge the conventional wisdom that access control to such data must be under the sole purview of the Police Department.

#Phillip A. Niedzielski-Eichner is a member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission, served on the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission and a former member of the Fairfax County School Board.