Letter to the Editor: Puller Supports Review Board

Letter to the Editor: Puller Supports Review Board

To the Editor:

The following letter was addressed to Sharon Bulova, chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

I am writing to you to recommend that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors create, appoint and support a Citizen Complaint Review Board. After speaking with my constituent, Nicholas Beltrante, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Police Accountability, and reviewing the materials he gave me, I believe that with the proper support and accountability the Citizen Complaint Review Board could be a useful tool to not only keep the Fairfax County police accountable, but ultimately foster community relations, support and facilitate open communication.

Without outside accountability and transparency of the police to the community, distrust and resentment build, and the police cannot be as effective. I have heard from constituents and neighbors who have concerns as to the ability of the police to investigate themselves honestly and fairly. The recent incidents of police action with unarmed suspects in or near my district are concerning to me and the community.

Several upstanding Virginia and national organizations have signed on in support of this idea and offered their support in ensuring the success of such a program, including the Virginia ACLU, NAACP Fairfax County branch, the National Association of Investigative Specialists, National Black Police Association and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.

Citizen review boards, when set up correctly and supported fully, can strengthen community trust in police, improve mediation and make citizens feel more comfortable in filing complaints in the first place, knowing that their complaint will be investigated fairly and fully.

I am supportive of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors setting up a Citizen Complaint Review Board with a clearly articulated mission of reviewing issues and not seeking out problems to be solved, and staffed with upstanding members of the community from each of the magisterial districts.

Toddy Puller

State Senator (D-36)