Educational Event Questions and Answers

The Fredericksburg Police Department received several questions from people who attended the Informational Event on July 29th. The following are answers to the majority of the questions asked. Some of the questions submitted were subjective or not related to the Fredericksburg Police Department. We do not remark on other law enforcement agencies investigations or tactics and therefore are unable to answer these types of questions.  

For questions regarding our Department's response to the demonstrations that occurred from May 31st to June 2nd, click here.

Have you spoken to other police departments that use 8 can’t wait? Are there any safety concerns for your officers?

The Department did extensive research and consulted with other law enforcement agencies prior to making directive revisions to make our agency 8 can’t wait compliant. 

I think every citizen should take shoot/don’t shoot training or at least try the simulator to experience the situation. How can people do this?

We too think it would be a great idea for people to experience the shoot/don’t shoot simulator. The simulator is owned by the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy. We will look into reserving the shoot/don’t shoot simulator at future community outreach events for people to experience. 

When is the next citizens’ police academy? I attended in 2011, may I attend again?

Currently, we are not offering a Citizens Police Academy to the community. We utilized social media as a way to keep the community informed about activities going on with the Department. We will explore the idea of hosting another Citizens Police Academy in the future. 

When is the PERF investigation going to be complete and when will we hear the results?

 PERF has committed to completing its work in six to eight months.

What opportunities are there for community members to get involved with the department?

Unfortunately, COVID has kept us from hosting community events and is prohibiting people from experiencing a ride along with our patrol officers. We will be looking for volunteers to assist in our Records Office in the near future. Please check our social media channels or website for more information. 

Do all surrounding departments have the same training requirements?

All Virginia law enforcement agencies are required to meet and maintain VA DCJS certification. Please reach out to the agencies within our region directly for more information about the training they require. For more information about our training, please see our training webpage.
 

Will you be adding or doing more training on crowd control? Will you do it in conjunction with surrounding departments?

Our Tactical Field Force Team trains quarterly and routinely trains with Virginia State Police. We look forward to hearing PERF’s recommendations on training for crowd control.

I’ve heard you do not want a repeat of what happened with the gas, what steps are you taking?

The City of Fredericksburg hired a third-party consultant to conduct an independent review of the City’s law enforcement practices and recent instances of use of force and arrests during demonstrations between May 31 and June 2 in Fredericksburg. 

Are less-lethal weapons such as tear gas, rubber bullets, going to be banned, restrained, or subject to stronger review when used?

Anytime an Officer utilizes force to gain compliance from a suspect during a lawful arrest, an internal use of force report must be completed by the officer utilizing the force. In this report all relevant information pertaining to the time, place, suspects name, reason for the encounter, related charges, type of force utilized, medical treatment rendered, and any witnesses both officers or civilians. Once this report is completed, it will be viewed along with additional documents (pictures, police report, etc.) and all related body camera videos to assure that all policies and procedure were followed appropriately. There are three levels of checks that these reports go through:

Ø First line supervisor (Sergeant)

Ø Mid-level supervisor (Lieutenant)

Ø Divisional Commander (Captain)

Ø Chief of Police & Office of Professional Standards

Each level of review must make a determination if the force used was necessary and appropriate under department policy and applicable laws. The Chief of Police makes the final determination if the use of force was necessary and appropriate under the circumstances and will either sign off as within policy, not within policy, excessive, or policy review. If a determination was made that force used was not within policy or excessive, the Chief of Police will initiate a Professional Standards investigation into the officers actions. 

What is your annual budget?

The Police Department was budgeted $8,680,234 last year in Fiscal Year 2020 and was approved a budget of $8,653,046 in Fiscal Year 2021. The General Fund for Fiscal Year 21 is $94,324,942. The Police Department receives approximately 9.1% of the overall City General Fund.

What policies did the FPD adopt from the 8 can’t wait campaign?

The Department now requires a warning before shooting and added a duty to intervene. 

How do you guys handle racial bias in the department? What do you do when an officer shows blatant bias towards a race?

We have all officers attend fair and impartial policing biennially and ethics/unbiased policing annually. In FY 2020, we have not had any racial bias complaints.  

Do you have any joint citizen and police bodies review the policies of the department together? If so how often does this occur?

In the past, we have asked our Citizens Advisory Panel to review many policies.

What is your community policing guidelines and how many officers are assigned for those?

Community policing is the practice of police officers and citizens working together in creative ways to improve the quality of life in a neighborhood by solving problems. By bringing residents, the business community, and other City agencies into the problem-solving process, police officers are able to address crime using both traditional police strategies and innovative approaches tailored to the unique needs of a neighborhood.

The Police Department integrates the philosophy and practice of community policing into its overall delivery of services. Patrol officers are given long-term beat assignments to help them develop a sense of ownership for their neighborhoods and allow them to engage in proactive problem-solving. Neighborhood associations are assigned a police supervisor to act as a single point of contact for their needs and concerns.

Three designated community police officers have been assigned to provide extra attention to neighborhoods facing specific challenges.

Can youth participate in a role playing training to help prevent situations like May 31 from happening again?

In the past, we have held mass casualty drills and requested people from the public to volunteer as role players. We advertise these training opportunities on our social media and I encourage you to look for more opportunities as they arise. 

What are the average years of service for city officers with the FPD and average years as a police officer?

The average years of service for all Fredericksburg Police Officer is 8.5 years.  

What plans are there to [have] social workers, homeless shelters, additional treatment centers, etc. in charge of responding to relevant calls rather than police trained primarily in law enforcement?

We work closely with the Department of Social Services when it concerns children, homeless, and adults in need of service. We also work closely with the RACSB, the Thurman Brisben Shelter, and Micah Ecumenical Ministries. 

How will racial bias in traffic stops and drug searches, especially in schools be addressed?

Beginning July 1, 2020, Virginia House Bill 1250, commonly known as the Community Policing Act, became law. It requires local law enforcement agencies to collect and report certain data pertaining to drivers to the Virginia State Police during a motor vehicle (traffic) stop. In Fredericksburg, some of this data was previously collected on stops that resulted in an arrest or the issuance of a Virginia Uniformed Summons (VUS). 

The Police Department will comply with this mandate. This means police officers must document the demographic information of individuals on all traffic stop encounters. The data that is required to be collected during traffic stops includes:

• the race, ethnicity, age, and gender of the person stopped

• the reason for the stop

• the location of the stop

• whether a warning, written citation, or summons was issued or whether any persons were arrested

• if a warning, written citation, or summons was issued or an arrest was made, the warning provided, violation charged, or crime charged

• whether the vehicle or any person was searched

As the Police Department complies with this new mandate, we want our community to be aware that additional questioning by our officers may occur during these stops so our agency can collect the required data.

The Department remains committed to ensuring all community members are treated fairly and impartially.

How is the City government and police department addressing the problem of police misconduct and the need to hold officers accountable given the standing legal precedence of “qualified immunity?”

The Fredericksburg Police Department holds its employees accountable. For questions regarding “qualified immunity”, we encourage you to speak with an attorney. 

Do you train your officers in trauma-informed care?

Our officers receive crisis intervention training. 

Why should an officer whose misconduct warrants dismissal/firing be allowed to maintain his law enforcement credentials and get a job at another agency?

This is a question for the Virginia General Assembly, not for our agency. We encourage you to reach out to your lawmakers.  

If a police officer makes a mistake during an interaction, through minor discipline may be his consequences [but] a citizen’s life is permanently offended (arrest record, trama, etc.) How will you address this dichotomy?

Please see answer regarding the Department’s complaint process above.

Who has the power to order chemical agents used on civilians and what checks and balances are in place to make sure the correct call is made?

The use of chemical agents requires supervisor approval and must be consistent with Department Directive 302 and the Tactical Field Force Operations Guide.

Are there systems to make sure instances of force on civilians are not racially motivated?

State law prohibits use of force from being racially motivated.

In your mission statement, it says you see to improve the life of everyone; what measures have been put in place to ensure “everyone” truly includes EVERYONE regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, etc.

Please read Department Directive 201 which outlines the Code of Ethics.

Why did you walk away from the protesters when they came to the police station to get answers for how they were wronged?

Please read this article from the Free Lance Star which summarizes the Back the ‘Burg Rally and the role Chief Layton and Captain Mason played. https://fredericksburg.com/news/local/fredericksburg-protesters-confront-police-over-use-of-tear-gas-in-early-demonstrations/article_bca148ea-03a9-598f-ab74-43f2689d4455.html

Black individuals account for 42% of arrests and 22% of our population from 2015-2020. Has this disparity been studied by the police department, and if so, what do you accredit it to?

For this type of analysis, arrest data is flawed from the start as officers do not have discretion in many of the arrests made (felonies, domestic assaults, shoplifting, warrant service, etc.).  In order to gauge potential disparity in enforcement the better dataset to review is total traffic summonses written because officers typically have full discretion in whether or not a warning or summons is issued for an observed traffic infraction.  FPD’s 2019 traffic summons data is listed in the below chart:

Asian

Black

Indian

White

Unknown

Total:

Summonses:

74

2147

16

5628

62

7927

Percentage:

.93%

27.1%

.20%

70.99%

.78%

This system isn’t perfect either but it provides a better gauge for potential disparity in discretionary enforcement activity.  When utilizing census population data for the City of Fredericksburg as a comparison, keep in mind that FPD arrests and issues traffic summonses to many people that do not reside in the 22401 zip code.