Fairfax County Police Department

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Fairfax County Police Department
Abbreviation FCPD
VA - Fairfax County Police.jpg
Patch of the Fairfax County Police Department
VA - Fairfax County Police Badge.jpg
Badge of the Fairfax County Police Department
Flag of Fairfax County, Virginia.svg
Flag of Fairfax County, Virginia
Agency overview
Formed July 1, 1940
Employees 1,730
Annual budget $217 million
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* County (US) of Fairfax in the state of Virginia, USA
Size 407 square miles (1,050 km2)
Population 1,111,620
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Fairfax, Virginia
Police Officers 1,402
Civilians 368
Agency executive Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Chief of Police
Districts 8
Helicopters 2
Official Website
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) is a full-service law enforcement agency, located in Northern Virginia. The FCPD services a population of 1,081,726 residents within 395 square miles (1,020 km2) of Fairfax County, Virginia.[1]

The stated mission of the department is to "protect persons and property by providing public safety services, and the fair and impartial enforcement of the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the County of Fairfax, while promoting community involvement, as well as stability and order through service, assistance and visibility."[2]


In the 1920s, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors began appointing road police, whose job it was to patrol the roads of Fairfax County and arrest traffic violators. In February 1932, the Board relinquished control of the county traffic police, and the four officers employed, Captain Haywood J. Durrer, Carl R. McIntosh, Louis L. Finks and Arthur W. Mills, became special officers and deputy sheriffs under Fairfax County Sheriff Eppa P. Kirby.[3]

The Fairfax County Police Department came into existence July 1, 1940. Much of the credit for its establishment goes to the man who was then Fairfax County Sheriff, Eppa Kirby, a colorful character who never carried a gun. Overwhelmed with managing the inadequate county jail and law enforcement duties, Sheriff Kirby persuaded the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to relieve him of his responsibilities for criminal police work by forming the police department. At the helm was Carl R. McIntosh, a deputy sheriff who became Fairfax County’s first chief of police.

Chief McIntosh, five newly sworn police officers, and two clerks became the county’s first police department employees. Three of the new officers were assigned to patrol the county’s roads, while another was appointed detective sergeant. With far-reaching insight into what would eventually become one of the department’s main areas of concern, Chief McIntosh appointed the fifth officer, John A. Millan as traffic sergeant on motorcycle patrol. Millan resigned shortly thereafter to accept a position as a revenue enforcement agent with the US Treasury Department's Prohibition Bureau.[4]

A 1955 expansion authorized as part of the county budget allowed the creation of the department's juvenile bureau, headed by Detective David Eike, and its traffic division, headed by Lieutenant Lewis Shumate.[5] Additionally, the department's detective bureau was consolidated at the FCPD headquarters in Fairfax under Lieutenant Grafton G. Wells and expanded with three new detectives.[5]

William L. Durrer was appointed as acting chief of police in June 1957 by Fairfax County Executive Carlton C. Massey due to the illness of Chief McIntosh.[6] Following Chief McIntosh's resignation in August, Durrer was appointed chief on October 30, 1957.[7][8]

Joyce A. Harvell was sworn in as the FCPD's first female police officer in July 1957, working with the FCPD's Juvenile Bureau.[9][10]

In July 1967, Christopher Stokes was hired as the department's first black policeman.[11][12]


The department achieved its third reaccreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission in June 2009. Fairfax County is the first police department in the Commonwealth of Virginia to accomplish this milestone.


The current chief of police is Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr. The three main divisions within the department are Patrol, Investigations/Operation, and Administration. Each division is commanded by a deputy chief. The Internal Affairs Bureau and the Chief's Office of Research and Support both report directly to the Chief.

I. The Investigation/Operation Division contains the Motorcycle Squad, SWAT, K-9 Section, EOD, Helicopter Unit, Crime Scene Section and the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Officers in the Motor Section keep traffic moving and control traffic at major incidents and crash scenes. They rely almost exclusively on Harley-Davidson motorcycles to get to the source of traffic problems. Specially trained and certified officers assigned to the Motor Carrier Safety Section inspect trucks and commercial vehicles for safety and legal regulations. They can force unsafe vehicles off the roads. The Crash Reconstruction Unit provides technical expertise and has investigative responsibility for most fatal crashes. The Traffic Safety Services Section acts as the department’s coordination point for all regional and departmental traffic enforcement and safety education programs. Traffic Enforcement Officers address parking issues. The Traffic Division coordinates the Auxiliary Police Officers and Volunteers in Police Service programs. APOs handle both administrative and operational tasks, such as augmenting patrol, traffic control, and taking police reports. VIPS perform primarily administrative tasks throughout the department.

The primary investigative branch of the Department is divided into specializations: Major Crimes (murder, sex crimes, assault, robbery, vehicle theft, financial crimes, and crimes against children), Organized Crime and Narcotics, Criminal Intelligence, and Investigative Support (crime scene, fingerprints, etc.).

II. The Administration Division contains the Criminal Justice Academy, Central Records, the property room and the Public Information Office.

The Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy trains recruits and prepares officers through constant, updated training and conducts the Citizen's Police Academy.

III. The Patrol Division contains Animal Control, Youth Services Division, and station detectives for property crimes.

Animal Protection Police officers are specially trained law enforcement officers who investigate dog bites and attacks and complaints of animal cruelty. They respond to emergencies involving sick or injured domestic animals and enforce county codes and state laws pertaining to animals. They remove strays from the community, often impounding them at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter where many can be reunited with their owners or adopted by new owners.

The vast majority of patrol officers operate out of eight district stations, which are as follows:[13]

  • Mason District
  • McLean District
  • Mount Vernon District
  • Fair Oaks District
  • Franconia District
  • Reston District
  • Sully District
  • West Springfield District

Aviation Division[edit]

The Helicopter Division was initially formed in 1972 with the donation of an Enstrom F-28 helicopter by a local businessman. It suspended operation in 1975. In 1983, the Division was reformed as a full-time operation with two Bell 206 Jet Rangers. Based out of Dulles Airport, it provided aeromedical transportation, traffic reporting and airborne law enforcement capabilities to the growing metropolitan area. The around the clock staffing consisting of a Pilot, Police Officer/Paramedic and a Flight Nurse from INOVA Fairfax Hospital. In 1991, INOVA Fairfax separated from the Helicopter Division at which time the Flight Nurse was replaced with a second Police Officer/Paramedic. This is the crew configuration with which the Helicopter Division still flies today. In 1997, the Division grew to a more capable and robust helicopter, the Bell 407. In 2011, the Division purchased its first Bell 429. The purchase of the Bell 429 made the Division the first multi-mission operator in the world to utilize this new airframe. Modern design characteristics of the Bell 429 allow adaptation to future missions needs, reduced/simplified maintenance, as well as improved longevity/service lifetime. Some of the highlights of the Bell 429 are twin engine redundancy, military grade sensors, night vision goggle technology and a lower noise signature which allow for safe and neighborly helicopter operations.


The continued urbanization of the county creates additional impacts on the ability of the department to provide service to the community. The department is studying the impacts of the proposed redevelopment of Tysons Corner, and other projects throughout the county that will result in more transit-oriented land use patterns. As a result of preliminary impact assessments of ongoing and future development patterns in the county, the department anticipates a future need to create two new patrol districts, while realigning existing districts to accommodate the demands created by this anticipated growth. The Patrol Bureau is developing mechanisms for predicting the level of staffing that may be required in the future to meet these challenges while maintaining service quality.


The Fairfax County Police Department Carries the Sig Sauer P226R or the P229R as their primary duty weapon. Certified officers carry the Taser X2

On the Beat[edit]

The department has its own television show on Channel 16 called, On the Beat, which seeks to educate the public on the mission of the department and provide information on public safety.

Channel 16 is the Fairfax County local Government-access television cable TV channel which delivers news and information about Fairfax County as well as Educational-access television programming. The Fairfax County Police Department has a 30-minute television show on Channel 16, which airs five times a week. On the Beat[14]


Fairfax County Police has several programs that are ongoing and short-term, depending on the needs of the community. Some examples include[15]

Honor Guard

Founded in 1980, the Ceremonial Honor Guard is a non-standing unit made up of career and auxiliary officers. It is one of the largest police Honor Guards in Virginia with 43 specially selected officers from the department’s rank and file. Selection criteria include prior experience, professional image, uniform appearance, personal grooming standards, motivation, stature/bearing, interest in Honor Guard activities, and positive attitude. In 2008, they participated in 83 events and assignments and monthly practices to ensure their readiness at a moment’s notice.

Road DAWG (Don’t Associate With Gangs)

Increased gang activity across the region prompted growth in the number of Road DAWG camps in the county from one to three (at Mount Vernon, Reston and West Springfield Districts). The camp program was created to build healthy decision-making skills; help youths resist the draw of gangs and show them a fun and friendly side of police officers.

Soccer Program for At-Risk Youths

Members of Hispanic communities in the Franconia District and police officers came together to produce a series of soccer tournaments for kids between the ages of 7 and 16. The aim of “United for the Sport” is to build stronger relationships between the two. It continues today with the addition of human services, social services, and other county agencies.


In 2008, the Public Information Office embraced new technology and new media to launch the department’s messages to more members of the public. Taking advantage of the social networking phenomena, information was posted on Fairfax County’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, which are monitored and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs. In addition, the police department started an FCPD YouTube site, posting informational and educational videos and information.

Attention to Senior Citizens

Seniors and Law Enforcement (SALT) is a joint program to address crime-related and public safety issues affecting seniors in the community. Franconia District crime prevention officers met with SALT council members on a monthly basis to discuss safety and emergency preparedness.

Animal Control

Animal Control officers are specially trained law enforcement officers who investigate dog bites and attacks and complaints of animal cruelty. They respond to emergencies involving sick or injured domestic animals and enforce county codes and state laws pertaining to animals. They remove strays from the community, often impounding them at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter where many can be reunited with their owners or adopted by new owners.

Explorer Program Young people between the ages of 14 and 21, male and female, with an interest in possible law enforcement careers fill the ranks of the Fairfax County Law Enforcement Explorer Post 1742, 2252, and 505. Active since 1975, post 1742 supports the mission of the Fairfax County Police Department by providing volunteer support at police and community events. Post 2252 was created in 2014 to serve the youth of the South County/Mt. Vernon Areas. Post 505 is the newest being created in the fall of 2015 to serve central Fairfax. In addition to service, the Explorers learn and compete in events testing some of the basic skills involved in a wide range of police assignments.

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Fairfax County Police Department, five officers have died while on duty.[16]

30-year-old Karen J. Bassford became the first Fairfax County police officer to be killed in the line of duty when she lost control of her police cruiser and crashed on Gallows Road near Vienna while responding to a report of a burglary in progress early on the morning of July 27, 1977. Officer Bassford was ejected from the vehicle in the crash and suffered massive head injuries. She was taken to Fairfax Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.[17][18]

While on a training run near Front Royal, Virginia, 51-year-old Captain Tommy F. Bernal was fatally injured on June 28, 2001, when his motorcycle was struck by a Ford Explorer that had swerved to avoid hitting another rider in the group.[19]

On May 8, 2006, 40-year-old Detective Vicky O. Armel was killed and 53-year-old Master Police Officer Michael E. Garbarino was mortally wounded in an attack on the Sully District Police Station by 18-year-old Michael W. Kennedy, a mentally ill man who opened fire on the station during a shift change before he himself was killed.[20] MPO Garbarino, who had been shot five times in Kennedy's attack, died at Inova Fairfax Hospital early on the morning of May 17, 2006.[21]

2nd Lieutenant Francis J. Stecco drowned while participating in a training exercise in Pohick Bay on October 21, 2008. The 42-year-old Stecco was wearing a dry suit when he disappeared while a police helicopter hovered overhead.[22] Lieutenant Stecco's corpse was finally recovered on October 25.[23]


Main article: Shooting of John Geer

On August 29, 2013, John Geer was shot to death by Fairfax County Police Officer Adam Torres, after a 40-minute standoff. Geer was unarmed, but a gun was reportedly on the ground away from his body, as he stood inside the doorway of his Springfield house. Geer had his hands raised in the air as he was shot.[24] Geer's partner filed a lawsuit, and was settled in 2015 for $3 million. Torres was indicted on the charge of second degree murder on August 17, 2015, and turned himself in to authorities.[25] Torres is scheduled to stand trial on April 18, 2016.[26]

Several high profile and controversial officer-involved shootings, including the death of Geer, and one automobile accident where citizens were killed by Fairfax County police officers have led to calls for an independent review board to be appointed.[27] On March 3, 2015, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors established an ad hoc commission to review the police department’s policies, practices, and programs regarding police-community relations, police-involved incidents, and public release of information. A report with recommendations from the commission was expected to be released in October 2015.[28]


  1. ^ "General Demographic Information – Fairfax County, Virginia". Fairfaxcounty.gov. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  2. ^ FCPD 2011 Budget Narrative, Fairfax County
  3. ^ "Sheriff to Control Police of Fairfax: Board of Supervisors Gives Approval to Transfer After Long Fight". The Washington Post. 18 February 1932. Retrieved 5 November 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ “Fifty Years Behind the Badge,” (FCPD PIO, 1990)
  5. ^ a b "Fairfax Creates Two Police Units". The Washington Post. 30 June 1955. Retrieved 6 November 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ "Police Given Acting Head In Fairfax". The Washington Post. 13 June 1957. Retrieved 5 November 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "Carl McIntosh Resigns As Fairfax Police Chief". The Washington Post. 30 August 1957. Retrieved 5 November 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ "Durrer New Head Of Fairfax Police". The Washington Post. 31 October 1957. Retrieved 5 November 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ "Mother of Three Is Policeman Now". The Washington Post. 1 August 1957. Retrieved 5 November 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ Guinn, Muriel (26 April 1958). "Mother of Three Among Fairfax Police Rookies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ "Fairfax County Names First Negro Policeman". The Washington Post. 15 July 1967. Retrieved 6 October 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ Bredemeier, Kenneth (9 August 1969). "Fairfax Seeks Negro Police". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 October 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ "District Stations – Fairfax County, Virginia". Fairfaxcounty.gov. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  14. ^ "On the Beat". Fairfaxcounty.gov. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  15. ^ “FCPD 2008 Annual Report,” (FCPD PIO, 2009)
  16. ^ "The Officer Down Memorial Page". Odmp.org. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  17. ^ Boodman, Sandra G. (28 July 1977). "1st On-Duty Officer Dies In Fairfax". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  18. ^ Wilbanks, William (2000). True Heroines: Police Women Killed in the Line of Duty Throughout the United States 1916 - 1999. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company. pp. 35–6. ISBN 1-56311-523-9. 
  19. ^ Jackman, Tom (30 June 2001). "Fairfax Police Lose A Leader and Friend". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  20. ^ Jackman, Tom; Rein, Lisa (9 May 2006). "Officer Fatally Shot Outside Police Station: Slaying Is 1st in Line of Duty in Fairfax". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  21. ^ Jackman, Tom (18 May 2006). "In Mourning Again For a Fairfax Officer". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  22. ^ Jackman, Tom (24 October 2008). "Search Continues for Body of Officer Lost in Pohick Bay Training Exercise". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  23. ^ Strauss, Valerie; Twarowski, Christopher (26 October 2008). "Searchers Find Body Of Missing Va. Officer". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  24. ^ "John B. Geer had hands up when shot by police; four officers say in documents". Washington Post. 
  25. ^ "Former Fairfax Co. officer indicted on charge of second degree murder in death of John Geer". NBC Washington. 
  26. ^ "Adam Torres trial for murder postponed until April 2016". Connection Newspapers. Fairfax Connection. December 3, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Three Years Later: No Police Oversight Board". Connection Newspapers. April 11, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Board Matter – Establishment of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission" (PDF). Fairfax County. March 3, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 

External links[edit]