Letter: Welcome from Police Chief Ed Roessler

Letter: Welcome from Police Chief Ed Roessler

Newcomers Guide


Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr.

Dear Community Members:

The Fairfax County Police Department was established on July 1, 1940 and today we have an authorized strength of 1,372 sworn law enforcement officers who protect and serve the communities of the County. On average, officers respond to over 400,000 calls for service each year. As we engage with the communities we serve, we understand our profession must always assess our services and constantly strive to challenge each other to re-engineer how we deliver essential law enforcement services in a community that exceeds 1.1 million residents. We are fortunate to have an engaged community which continues to assist us in preventing and fighting crime, increasing the culture of safety to preserve the sanctity of life for all, and keep pace with rapid urbanization.

Your Police Department proactively undertook an independent review of its use of force training, and related policies and procedures. The review, conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum, proposed 71 enhancement recommendations. The core theme of change is adopting the philosophy of the sanctity of life in all we do. We have initiated policy changes and embarked on many training programs which embrace state-of-the-art decision making models and best practices for de-escalation and escalation techniques and new initiatives to safely interact and divert from jail those suffering mental illness. Currently 43 percent of our patrol officers are certified in Crisis Intervention Team training and all recruits now receive parallel training.

Other recent policy changes include the concepts of being able to hold and contain events in order to develop successful resolutions to each call for service when possible.

In 2014 the Police Department began a self-assessment process to align all of its policies and procedures to comply with several hundred national standards established by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The on-site assessment, required to obtain accredited status, is scheduled for early 2016 and will be conducted by assessors from outside the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Department continues to maintain its accredited status from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.

During the last year the Department’s social media presence has continued to expand in efforts toward sharing more information with the community. Recently the Department posted 10 years of officer-involved shooting case summaries and data on our public web site. Our goal is to share information on officer-involved shooting cases in order for the community to better understand the investigative processes of these events and to engage in dialogue on these matters.

In 2013, the Department created a Chief’s Council on Diversity Recruitment. Its strategic mission is to assist the Department to increase the cultural diversity of the sworn, civilian, and volunteer workforce to better reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. When visiting the Chief’s web site you can view the diversity scorecard accountability measure, read the Council’s strategic plan document, and learn about the varied volunteer opportunities you can engage in with the Police Department.

Several community members have graciously volunteered time from their busy personal lives to establish and serve on a Communities of Trust Committee which is comprised of all public safety agencies and reports directly to the chairman of the County Board of Supervisors. This effort aligns well with recommendations from the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Many forums have been held throughout the community and numerous initiatives are in development to increase public engagement with the community to build upon mutual trust.

The Police Department, along with the Community Services Board, other public safety agencies, and mental health advocates have partnered to develop additional crisis intervention programs, including a drop off center which will provide a viable jail diversion alternative for those in mental health crisis. We look forward to achieving this critical strategic goal.

In recent years a majority of our homicides have been domestic related. On July 1, 2015, the Fairfax County Police Department launched a Lethality Assessment Program in which all patrol officers have been trained to administer an assessment to provide resources to victims of domestic violence which are available 24/7. This program truly demonstrates engagement with many partners who share our goal in increasing services and eliminating domestic violence.

In early 2015 another community engagement endeavor was launched with the creation of the Ad Hoc Police Policy and Practices Commission. This Commission is comprised of five sub-committees which are conducting reviews of the Police Department as related to use of force; communications; recruitment, diversity, and applicant vetting; and independent oversight and investigations. The Commission will make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors this fall. The Police Department is highly engaged with all of the community members serving on the Commission and we look forward to positive change recommendations to better serve all of Fairfax County.

The Police Department values technology advances and we are migrating to a new records management system to assist all personnel in achieving an intelligence led community policing model. The Department is also preparing to institute an electronic summons system for issuing traffic and criminal violations. Our patrol cruisers are equipped with in-car video recording devices and we are exploring the viability of body worn cameras with community stakeholders.

To learn more about the Fairfax County Police Department, please visit


Welcome to Fairfax County, a great place to live, work, play and grow old.