Use of Force Rises in 2019 in Fairfax County

Disproportionate treatment of African Americans recorded in every police district in the county.

While Black people are less than 10 percent of the Fairfax County population (9.7 percent), they are the targets for use of force by police 46.53 percent of the time. Incidents of police use of force rose from 510 incidents in 2018 to 594 in 2019. Fairfax County Police released its published data on Monday, June 22.

This year, police published use of force data in each police district for the first time. Every police district reported disproportionate use of force against Black community members.

Mount Vernon, McLean and Franconia police districts had the most disproportionate statistics.

In the Mount Vernon District, police used force against Black people 61.72 percent of the time; the population of the Mount Vernon District is 16.94 Black. The Mount Vernon District is where Officer Tyler Timberlake used his taser multiple times on a Black man who did not appear to be a threat on June 5 in Gum Springs. Timberlake has been charged with three counts of assault.

In the McLean district, where African American community members account for fewer than one in 20 (4.69 percent), they were the subject of police force 57.02 percent of the time.

In the Franconia police district, force was used against Black people more than half the time, 50.66 percent, even though Black people account for only 16.76 percent of the area population.

ALL POLICE DISTRICTS, alphabetically:

Fair Oaks, 40 percent use of force against Black people, who are 7.22 percent of the population;

Franconia, 50.55 percent use of force against Black people, who are 16.76 percent of the population;

Mason, 35.64 percent use of force against Black people, who are 10.80 percent of the population;

Mclean, 57.02 percent use of force against Black people, who are 4.69 percent of the population;

Mount Vernon, 61.72 percent use of force against Black people, who are 16.94 percent of the population;

Reston, 31.03 percent use of force against Black people, who are 8.24 percent of the population;

Sully, 34.25 percent use of force against Black people, who are 7.3 percent of the population;

West Springfield, 30 percent use of force against Black people, who are 8.1 percent of the population.

THE MOST INCIDENTS of use of force, 87, were in each of the McLean and Mason police districts; police resorted to use of force in the Mount Vernon police district 86 times.

In the entire county, a pointed firearm accounted for 396 of the 1,632 times use of force was used (multiple kinds of force were used in the 594 cases), force to hold in 255 incidents, take down 229 times, and force to cuff 206 times. Use of force includes use of weapons, use of pepper spray, strikes with hands or feet, taser weapons, canine, and more.

In 2018, African American community members were targets of police force 48.6 percent of the time.

The implemented recommendations of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission, to which FCPD leadership agreed, call for collection and release of more detailed data than has been made available: “Collect data, and publish an annual statistical report, covering all stops, frisks, citations, arrests, and use-of force by district station and magisterial district – include the race, gender, and ethnicity of the individual involved and note whether the suspect is homeless and/or if a mental health crisis is a factor. Document the outcome of each incident and regularly report the collected data to the BOS and the public and post the data online.”

“This data is troubling, and we certainly have work to do,” said Chairman Jeff McKay. “I also asked the Police Chief to provide a timeline to the Board for the release and publication of all FCPD police stops (to include traffic citations, traffic stops, and arrests). …Our goal must be increased transparency moving forward.”

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