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Fairfax to Create Commission to Review Police Policies

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    Fairfax to Create Commission to Review Police Policies
    NBCWashington.com
    Jan. 8, 2015: Demonstrators protest the police shooting of John Geer.

    The Fairfax County Chairman plans to create a commission to review police department policies.

    County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova announced Friday she will create an ad hoc commission to examine the Fairfax County Police Department's practices regarding the release of information to the public.

    "Our Board has been taking a hard look at our policies involving the timing and manner of releasing information in the case of critical police-involved incidents," Bulova said in a statement. "This effort can be greatly enhanced by engaging with the community in an open, transparent way."

    The move follows controversies over transparency in deadly incidents involving Fairfax police.

    On Feb 8., 37-year-old Natasha McKenna died five days after having a stungun used on her while in police custody at the Fairfax County jail. Police said McKenna did not comply with officers' commands. Police said Thursday that officers also used a restraint chair and a light hood to restrain McKenna, who resisted deputies.

    The Fairfax County Police Department launched an investigation into McKenna's death and said they would determine any criminal liability in the incident. But sources told News4 that police detectives have denied access to the county's detention center.

    Police said they have video of the incident in the jail, but are treating it as evidence and have no plans to release it at this time.

    Just two days before McKenna's death, a judge ordered Fairfax County police to release internal affairs documents of an officer involved in the fatal shooting of a man during a police standoff in August 2013.

    On Aug. 29, 2013, Fairfax police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at the Springfield home of John Geer. What followed is a matter of conflicting reports. Officer Adam Torres, who fired the shot that struck and killed Geer, told investigators he saw Geer's hands go toward his waist as if reaching for a weapon. However, Geer's father says his son's hands were held up.

    Police refused to turn over records to Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh, who was investigating if criminal charges were warranted. Morrogh then referred the case to federal prosecutors, where it remains.

    In a statement Friday, Bulova's office said the commission would review police department policies related to "use-of-force training policies, threat assessments, and the Internal Affairs Division." The commission would also examine the relationship between the Commonwealth's Attorney and the police.

    Bulova also seeks to include outside organizations on the commission to study how "serious police-involved incidents" are investigated.

    Bulova appointed Michael Hershman to chair the ad hoc commission. Hershman currently serves as a citizen appointee to the Board of Supervisors Audit Committee, according to the Chairman's office.

    Bulova plans to announce the membership of the commission and seek the Board of Supervisor's endorsement at a March 3 meeting.