Fairfax County police

Report Shows Racial Disparities, Overall Excessive Use of Force by Fairfax County Police

Fairfax County police cruisers with their lights flashing
NBCWashington

New data shows police in Fairfax County, Virginia, disproportionately use force against people of color.

New data shows police in Fairfax County, Virginia, disproportionately use force against people of color.

Fairfax County officials hired a team of researchers from multiple universities to study data about how and when officers are using force against the public. They presented their findings to county officials Tuesday.

The belief was officers were using force against people of color, especially Black men, disproportionately, and the study backed that up.

But the study also showed use of force against everyone including white people was too often.

"There is a use of force issue across all of our residents and our whole population," Fairfax County Board Public Safety Committee Chairman Rodney Lusk said.

The researchers used Fairfax County police data from 2016 through 2018 and found that when force was used, 42 percent of the time it was used on a Black person compared to 38 percent white. There are nearly six times as many white people as there are Black people in Fairfax County.

Police Chief Kevin Davis said the racial disparities didn't come as a surprise.

“We all have implicit biases and we need to be aware of those biases and change the way we police," he said.

The researchers said countywide racial demographics don't tell the whole story.

They studied how force was used based on who, specifically, police were interacting with and found police were almost twice as likely to pull their gun or a Taser on a Black person.

The researchers laid out a long list of recommendations for the county to immediately consider to reduce police use of force.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said it will take the research to the public and local advocacy groups to get feedback on how to make effective changes in policing.

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