Police departments in Northern Virginia are reforming how officers are investigated when they use deadly force.
The Northern Virginia Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Committee announced the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team Tuesday.
"The important part about this team is that as a chief of police, I don't have control of that investigation, and that's the important part for the public trust," Herndon Chief of Police Maggie DeBoard said.
Currently, police use of force is investigated by detectives within the same department. Soon, it will be investigated by a team of detectives from multiple agencies except the agency involved in the shooting.
Once the investigation is complete, the process remains the same. The facts of the case are given to the prosecutor in the county where the officers involved in the shooting work, and the prosecutor will determine if the shooting was justified or criminal.
"This agreement demonstrates the commitment in Northern Virginia to the police chiefs involved to evolve and provide modern policing to our communities," Manassas Chief of Police Doug Keen said.
Most police departments in Northern Virginia are participating, but three big departments are not: Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Alexandria.
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Alexandria and Loudoun say they use Virginia State Police to investigate police shootings.
The Fairfax County Police Department said in a statement it is committed to full transparency in such incidents.
“We apply a very high standard for these investigations and our detectives are extensively trained and experienced in this area,” the statement said. “These investigations are then subject to independent review by the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney for Fairfax County and supplemental review by the Independent Police Auditor and our community through the Civilian Review Panel.”
"I support the objectives of the agreement to provide our peer law enforcement agencies resources during critical events and shall continue to make available our resources in the spirit of the joint agency memorandum," Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said.
Funding for this project comes out of existing money within each department.
The new team will officially start in the next few months.