Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 3 p.m., the Board of Supervisors Safety and Security Committee will meet at the Fairfax County Government Center. FCPD media report that Police Chief Kevin Davis will present the department's foot pursuit policy to the Board. He is also expected to respond to recommendations by the Police Reform Matrix Action Plan Working Group.
Kevin Davis began his tenure as chief of the Fairfax County Police Department on May 3, 2021. In the Final Report June 2021 of the University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, An Investigation into the Use of Force by the Fairfax County Police Department, researchers Michael R. Smith, J.D., Ph.D., and Rob Tillyer, Ph.D. recommended that “[FCPD should] consider adopting a foot pursuit policy to help reduce force and injuries to officers and suspects.” This research project was supported through an agreement between the Fairfax County Office of the Independent Police Auditor and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
According to a different report, the April 2023 Fairfax County Police Department Review of Issues Surrounding Recent Police-Shooting Incidents by the Performance Executive Review Board (PERF), which Davis requested, the department did not adopt a foot pursuit policy as the University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice had recommended. In April 2023, Davis was one month shy of his second anniversary as chief.
PERF researchers said in the report that, at Davis's request, “PERF did not examine reports connected to the last [shooting] incident, which took place on Feb. 22, 2023, since that matter is under active review by the local prosecutor.” That incident involved a nighttime foot pursuit by two Fairfax County police officers, one plain-clothed and one uniformed. They shot and killed a shoplifting suspect outside Tysons Corner Center.
A man was allegedly stealing sunglasses from a store, as reported to the police. The man, later identified as Timothy Johnson, 37, was unarmed and ran out of the store, across the parking lot, and into a wooded area. Having been alerted of the possible shoplifting incident, the officers followed in foot pursuit. Johnson, alive after having been shot once in the chest, was pronounced dead at the hospital.
PERF researchers reported in 2023 that the Fairfax police department only recently began requiring its members to write "foot pursuit" in incident reports if they engaged in such a pursuit. In the past, department members may have described a foot pursuit using less searchable terms, such as "ran after subject" or "chased person."
PERF reported that between July 19, 2021, and April 20, 2023, the Fairfax County Police Department had eight police shooting incidents, three of which were fatal; in the seven years before July 19, 2021, there were eight police shooting incidents. Per Chief Kevin Davis's request, PERF examined all data until April 2023. Since the local prosecutor was conducting an investigation into the Johnson incident, PERF did not review any reports related to it.
In his 2021 Annual Report, Davis said, “There is always room for improvement.” The report adds that the department “routinely ensures our policies and directives are consistent with best policing strategies, practices and reflect community feedback and values.”
Multiple civilian groups exist in Fairfax County related to policing, including the Community Advisory Committee | Police (fairfaxcounty.gov), Communities of Trust Committee | Police (fairfaxcounty.gov), police-department-cy-2023-eip.pdf (fairfaxcounty.gov), Police Civilian Review Panel | Police Civilian Review Panel (fairfaxcounty.gov) and the Police Reform Matrix Group.
FCPD Media responded on Sept. 21 when asked how frequently Chief Davis had met with the Community Advisory Group, Reform Matrix Group, and other relevant civilian police groups over the past two months: “Each month, our district commanders meet with their Community Advisory Committees. Chief Davis also meets with the Chief’s Advisory Council bi-monthly too.”
So far, the FCPD has made no public response to the Matrix Working Group’s recommended action plan. Supervisor Rodney Lusk’s office created the matrix in 2020 to make publicly accessible all police reform recommendations made by community members and groups.
The Matrix Working Group met earlier this year and considered the more than 300 recommendations in the matrix, organizing them into eight primary topics with recommendations for an action plan.
Two members of the matrix working group, Phil Niedzielski-Eichner and Rev. Vernon Walton, presented the recommendations at the May Public Safety and Security meeting.
The upcoming Safety and Security Meeting with the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 3, featuring Davis, is public, as are all supervisor board meetings. The committee focuses on policies, projects, and programs that have the potential to affect the welfare and public safety of all county residents.