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‘I fear for the future of public safety’ | Fairfax County official concerned about its police department

Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity said the Fairfax County Police Department is in a crisis that stems from department leadership.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A lack of trust in the Fairfax County Police Department leadership has left a county official concerned. Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity described it as a crisis within the department.

“The crisis of leadership in our department has been there for a number of years," Herrity said. "Recently, it's kind of come to a head."

Brad Carruthers, the President of the Fairfax Fraternal Order of Police, said some officers are reporting a lack of trust in the chief and deputy chiefs. He said he believes some of that stems from over the summer when an FCPD officer was charged with assault after using a taser on a man.

“The press conference that followed with Chief Rossler saying that his officers were criminals, that he was disgusted with the officers, it just took morale and just absolutely made it circle the drain,” Carruthers said. “They're afraid, even if their actions are 100% correct. They're petrified of retaliation that something's going to happen to them because of the Chief of Police or because of the Commonwealth's Attorney.”

RELATED: Fairfax County police officer faces three assault charges after use of Taser on a man

Carruthers said there is limited trust with the department’s command and that is having an impact on the community the officers serve.

“If they have not already seen it starting to kind of buildup and following the news where there's been an uptick in crime in Fairfax County, they're soon going to,” Carruthers said.

RELATED: Police departments struggle with updating use of force policies, while some officers push back

According to a report put out by Herrity, on Oct. 13, 2019 FCPD conducted 396 traffic stops, as opposed to 18 traffic stops on Oct. 13, 2020.

Herrity said he has heard community members say they fear what’s going to happen in Fairfax County if something doesn’t change.

“We had a meeting of over 300 officers about two weeks ago and they told us they're afraid to do their job,” he said. “If you call the police they're still going to come, but what we're really missing now is that proactive piece and we need a chief and leadership team that can support the police in that proactive piece.”

Herrity said this issue will be on the agenda for the next Public Safety Committee meeting.

“I fear for the future of public safety in Fairfax County,” Herrity said. “Once you lose that in the safest jurisdiction of our size in the country, you'll never get it back. And it's a department that's always been a proud department and we need to get back to being a proud department and a leader in the country.”

WUSA9 reached out to the Fairfax County Police Dept. and will update the story if a response is given.

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