Comments by Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. on Challenges to the Public’s Trust of the Law Enforcement Profession
The Fairfax County Police Department has been serving our communities for 80 years, and it has troubled all of us in law enforcement to observe events around this country, including what occurred in Minneapolis where the sanctity of Mr. Floyd’s life was ignored and other officers did not intervene to preserve another precious life. Earlier today the Hennepin County Attorney issued murder charges and we shall have faith the local and federal justice systems will navigate toward justice for the Floyd family, the communities impacted, and our entire nation. However, we must be mindful there is a healing process where righteous anger needs to be constructively exercised through the right to free speech. Fairfax County is blessed to have a highly engaged community which helps our Police Department transparently use a co-production of policing philosophy to ensure our hiring processes, training, policies, and internal and external accountability systems are meeting the expectations of the highest levels of standards by our community served and the law enforcement profession. Specifically, our co-production of policing is accomplished through collaboration of both Department members and community members developing policies and/or providing input to policies and training and data sharing transparently on our web pages.
Over the last few months we converted to virtual community meetings to keep the continuity of community engagement strong. During the last few trying days and today, I’ve personally networked with our community advocates to ensure they have access to their Chief and the senior law enforcement leaders of the Department to create robust dialogue to understand the awful events that have unfolded recently throughout our country as we need to increase our conversations about the erosion of the public’s trust for law enforcement as we continue to observe the disproportionately of the deaths of our African American community members. As a reminder, we have updated our use of force policies over the years using the co-production of policing model, vetted our policies and training through the Public Safety Committee, and we continue to leverage the partnerships created with community members who were part of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission. Additionally, we are grateful for the external accountability measures from the Police Civilian Review Panel, the Independent Police Auditor, the voluntary submission to both state and national accreditation agencies, and the periodic independent reviews of our lines of business by academic institutions.
We continue to pray for Mr. Floyd’s family as individuals, a Police Department, and as a community who all collectively value the sanctity of all human life.