YOU CAN'T REGULATE
A PUNK ATTITUDE
Fairfax County Civilian Review Panel Sworn in
Inaugural meeting of the Civilian Review Panel
The nine members of the Civilian Review Panel marked with *: Gerarda Culipher, Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court; Randy Sayles,* Oak Hill; Rhonda VanLowe,* Reston; Kathleen Davis-Siudut,* Springfield; Adrian Steel,* McLean, chairman of the panel; Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Board of Supervisors; Judge William Webster; Supervisor John Cook, chairman of Public Safety Committee; Jean Senseman,* Lorton; Douglas Kay,* Fairfax; Hollye Doane,* Oakton; Steve Descano,* Springfield; and Hansel Aguilar,* Fairfax. Photo by Mary Kimm.
Former director of the FBI and CIA, Judge William Webster addressed inaugural meeting of the Civilian Review Panel on Monday, March 20 about the importance of civilian oversight.
Judge William Webster and Adrian Steel, chairman of the inaugural Civilian Review Panel. Steel was special assistant to Webster at the FBI.
#The nine members of the Fairfax County Civilian Review Panel were sworn in at the panel’s inaugural meeting on Monday, March 20.
#Judge William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA, spoke on the importance of civilian oversight of law enforcement. “Civilian oversight is important in a country where we want people to feel safe,” Webster said. He urged panel members to consider the promise he made when he joined the FBI: To do what the citizens expect in the way that the Constitution allows.
#The nine members appointed by the Board of Supervisors are: Hansel Aguilar, Fairfax; Kathleen Davis-Siudut, Springfield; Steve Descano, Springfield; Hollye Doane, Oakton; Douglas Kay, Fairfax; Randy Sayles, Oak Hill; Jean Senseman, Lorton; Adrian Steel, McLean, chairman; and Rhonda VanLowe, Reston. They were among more than 140 applicants for the volunteer positions.
#“This is historic,” said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “The creation of this panel and the creation of the independent auditor position were two of the primary recommendations of the Ad Hoc Commission.”
#Bulova appointed the 30-member Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission in October 2015 in the wake of public concern after the police shooting death of John Geer in August 2013. The commission, which included full participation of the Fairfax County Police Department, made 140 recommendations, most either already implemented or in process.
#FCPD Police Chief Edwin Roessler pledged his support to the panel on Monday, saying that it would help “build upon the trust the public gives us.”
#The Civilian Review Panel will act as an independent avenue for residents to submit complaints concerning allegations of abuse of authority or misconduct by a FCPD officer. The panel will have the authority to request and review completed Police Department internal administrative investigations regarding a civilian complaint against an officer. The panel may hold public meetings to review police administrative investigations and walk through with members of the community how the investigation was conducted, including findings of fact, evidence collected and witness statements.
#The Civilian Review Panel will not address use of force by police that results in serious injury or death; those will be monitored by the newly hired Police Auditor, Richard G. Schott.
Fairfax County police release name of officer in fatal shooting after he drops suit
By Justin Jouvenal March 2
Fairfax County police released the name Thursday of an officer involved in a fatal shooting in January after he told a federal court that he would drop legal efforts to block making the ¬information public.
Master Police Officer Lance Guckenberger, a 16-year veteran, fatally shot a man in Herndon on Jan. 16 after police said the man lunged at officers with a knife following a standoff at his home.
Police said the man had previously shot two people and was holding a roommate hostage. He also set a fire in the home, putting the roommate at risk.
[Man fatally shot after standoff at Herndon home]
Police said Guckenberger was involved in two previous ¬nonfatal shootings in 2005 and 2010. In both instances, ¬prosecutors found the shootings were -justified.
Guckenberger filed a lawsuit in early February, claiming that the imminent release of his name in the Herndon shooting could put him at risk. Guckenberger cited threats other officers across the country had received after ¬police-involved shootings and use-of-force incidents.
A federal judge granted ¬Guckenberger a temporary restraining order but later rescinded it after Fairfax County police said they were still working to complete a standard threat assessment to ¬determine whether to release his name.
[Federal judge temporarily blocks release of officer’s name in fatal police shooting]
Last Friday, Fairfax County ¬Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said that he found no credible threat against Guckenberger and that he would inform the officer that he planned to release his name.
Guckenberger could have ¬pursued another injunction but chose not to, according to court filings.
“I’ve been transparent with the officer throughout the entire process as I am with all officers in the same situation,” Roessler said. “In this particular case, we’ve concluded a very thorough risk assessment process. Obviously, there is no credible threat, so we are abiding by the policy [of releasing his name].”
Last year, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors enacted a policy requiring the county police department to release the names of officers involved in the use of deadly force within 10 days of an incident, except in instances in which there are credible threats to officers’ safety.
The policy was adopted as part of a wave of changes after the fatal shooting of an unarmed Springfield man, John Geer, in 2013. Police did not release ¬officer Adam Torres’s name until a judge ordered the department to do so, 16 months after the shooting. Torres ultimately pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Guckenberger’s attorneys thanked the police department for the thorough threat assessment, which was conducted with the assistance of the FBI.
“Police officers who do their job and saves lives under these types of extraordinary circumstances should be afforded ¬appropriate protections and support that are no less than ¬members of the community, especially where all the facts have not been made public due to ongoing investigations,” said Amy -Conway-Hatcher, an attorney for Guckenberger.
The issue of naming officers involved in use-of-force incidents has become a flash point across the country after national protests over fatal encounters between police and minorities.
Reformers say naming officers is critical for transparency, but officers and their unions have said that it can put police in harm’s way.
The criminal and administrative probes are still underway for the fatal shooting involving Guckenberger.
By Times Staff
On Feb. 28, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed nine Fairfax County residents to serve on the newly established Police Civilian Review Panel. The creation of a Civilian Review Panel was recommended by the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission in their October 2015 final report to the Board of Supervisors.
“The Police Civilian Review Panel will promote further transparency and openness in community policing,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “Each appointed member will bring a valuable perspective, extensive knowledge and years of community involvement to the table. Together with their impressive skillsets, this group of individuals will set the bar high for how the Civilian Review Panel will operate. I am very proud of our Fairfax County Police Department. This Panel will contribute toward making us a model of excellence for the nation.”
The Civilian Review Panel will act as an independent avenue or “portal” for residents to submit complaints concerning allegations of abuse of authority or misconduct by a Fairfax County Police (FCPD) Officer. The Panel will also have the authority to request and review completed Police Department internal administrative investigations regarding a civilian complaint against an officer. The Panel may hold public meetings to review police administrative investigations and walk through with members of the community how the investigation was conducted, including findings of fact, evidence collected and witness statements. Examples of complaints and cases for the Civilian Review Panel to receive and review may include:
• The use of abusive, racial, ethnic or sexual language;
• Harassment or discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age, familial status, or disability;
• The reckless endangerment of a detainee or person in custody;
• Serious violations of Fairfax County or FCPD procedures
The Civilian Review Panel will not address potentially criminal use of force or police-involved shootings. Cases of that magnitude would likely involve an investigation by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and would be monitored by the newly hired Police Auditor, Richard G. Schott.
The Board of Supervisors has appointed Adrian Steel to serve as the first chairman of the Civilian Review Panel. All subsequent chairmen will be selected by members of the Civilian Review Panel in a manner that will be determined by the Panel’s bylaws. Panel members will serve three year terms with a two term limit, although some inaugural members will serve for less time to allow for staggered terms.
The first orders of business for the Civilian Review Panel include writing bylaws detailing how the Panel will function, and training Panel members on current police practices and policies in Fairfax County. Once those items are complete, which may take a number of months, the Civilian Review Panel will begin their work of requesting and reviewing cases.
See below for the names and short bios of the Police Civilian Review Panel Members (in alphabetical order):
• Hansel Aguilar, Fairfax
Mr. Aguilar, originally from Honduras, investigates allegations of police misconduct at the D.C. Office of Police Complaints. Mr. Aguilar is a former police officer for the George Mason University Police Department and previously worked as a case manager and internal investigator for Youth for Tomorrow. He has served with the Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean and with the Fairfax County Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services. Mr. Aguilar is bilingual in Spanish and English and believes that oversight is an important tenet of maintaining justice and equality in a democratic society.
• Kathleen Davis-Siudut, Springfield
Ms. Davis-Siudut has spent the past 15 years providing training as well policy development and implementation in the areas of sexual violence, human trafficking, and cultural diversity. Ms. Davis-Siudut is of Korean descent and has previously worked for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Polaris Project, and the US Marine Corps. She currently works with the Air Force as a sexual assault prevention and response subject matter expert.
• Steve Descano, Springfield
During his six years as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Descano led numerous investigations conducted by FBI, IRS and USPIS agents. While at the Department of Justice, he analyzed documentary evidence, interviewed witnesses, and reviewed the investigatory work of agents and other prosecutors. Mr. Descano currently works as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Paragon Autism Services and serves on the Criminal Justice Committee of the Fairfax County NAACP. Mr. Descano also serves on the Fairfax County Trails and Sidewalks Committee, is a graduate of West Point, and was nominated by the Fairfax County NAACP to serve on the Civilian Review Panel.
• Hollye Doane, Oakton
A Fairfax County resident for more than 30 years, Ms. Doane spent most of her career as an attorney in Washington D.C. representing an array of clients, including the National Down Syndrome Society and Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation. Ms. Doane has been an advocate for the disability community for more than 20 years and understands the importance of building positive relationships between law enforcement officers and people with disabilities. Her experience as a journalist prior to attending law school gave her an appreciation for clear, timely and transparent communication between government officials and the community. After her retirement, Ms. Doane trained as a mediator and facilitator and currently serves as a lay pastoral minister in her church.
• Douglas Kay, Fairfax
Mr. Kay is a trial lawyer who has handled civil litigation, criminal defense and personal injury cases for over 20 years. He currently focuses his practice on commercial litigation matters. As a criminal defense attorney, he has represented individuals charged with everything from simple traffic matters to the most serious felony offenses in state and federal courts. Mr. Kay previously served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Navy and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County. A lifelong Fairfax County resident, Mr. Kay attended Fairfax County Public Schools, coaches his son’s youth basketball team, and served on Fairfax County’s Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission. Mr. Kay was nominated to serve on the Civilian Review Panel by the South Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the Fairfax Bar Association.
• Randy Sayles, Oak Hill
Mr. Sayles has over 35 years of law enforcement and criminal investigations experience. He worked as a Federal Agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and served as a police officer for the Denver, Colorado Police Department. Mr. Sayles enjoys giving back to the community by volunteering for the Clean Fairfax Council and Creekside Homeowners Association, and was the recipient of a Fairfax County 2016 Environmental Excellence Award for removing 800 bags of trash and over 1200 illegal signs along nine miles of Centreville Road. Mr. Sayles served as a member of Fairfax County’s Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission and has continued to work with the Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County Police to implement the Commission’s recommendations.
• Jean Senseman, Lorton
Ms. Senseman is a licensed clinical social worker who has spent many years working with clients who experience mental illness, PTSD and substance use disorders. Ms. Senseman has worked in private practice providing treatment and therapy for individuals young and old who experience a wide variety of mental health disorders. Ms. Senseman taught at George Washington University Medical School and volunteers for her Condo Association Finance Committee. Previously, Ms. Senseman worked at the Woodburn Community Mental Health Center and at the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter helping residents of all socio-economic backgrounds receive mental health treatment.
• Adrian L. Steel, Jr., McLean (Chairman)
Mr. Steel served on Fairfax County’s Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission and has continued to work with the Board of Supervisors to implement the Commission’s recommendations. Mr. Steel has been appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve as the first chairman of the Police Civilian Review Panel. Mr. Steel has demonstrated extensive knowledge and a strong commitment regarding 21st Century police policies and best practices, including civilian oversight. Mr. Steel currently works as a senior counsel at Mayer Brown LLP where he has practiced law for over 35 years, and previously served as Special Assistant to FBI Director, William H. Webster.
• Rhonda VanLowe, Reston
Ms. VanLowe was appointed to the Governor’s Taskforce for Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response and served on the Public Safety workgroup. She has devoted much of her community service work to serving those with unique physical, mental, emotional, intellectual or cognitive backgrounds. Ms. VanLowe practiced law in law firm and corporate settings, served as Board Chair of The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc., and received the National Women of Color Special Recognition Award at the 2008 STEM Conference. Ms. VanLowe is a 36-year resident of Fairfax County and looks forward to working together with members of the Panel to develop procedures that will set the foundational tone and tenor for the work of the Panel.