Virginia Police Department Retrains Officers to Avoid Use of Deadly Force

A Virginia police department is training officers to make sure they understand a new use-of-force policy.

Every officer in the Fairfax County Police Department will go through what the chief calls re-engineering with a goal of avoiding the use of deadly force.

The police shooting death of an unarmed John Geer in 2013 put Fairfax County's use of lethal force in a harsh spotlight and resulted in a murder indictment of the officer who fired the fatal shot.

Chief Ed Roessler said reviewing and retooling the department’s use-of-force policy was one of his goals before that shooting.

The new approach being taught in realistic drills is take cover, take time and deescalate.

Virtual reality videos challenge the officer with dramatic scenarios, like dealing with a man menacing others with a chain saw. The officers keep their distance, communicate clearly, threaten to use the Taser but don't end up needing to deploy that less-than-lethal force.

A 20-year veteran of the force told News4 that’s how he always approached policing but said it was a helpful refresher course. An officer who joined the force in December said the realistic practice is valuable.

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