Opinion: Commentary: Calling for New Fairfax County Police Chief Search

ACLU People Power Fairfax joins the Fairfax County NAACP in calling for a new search to fill the Fairfax County Police Chief position, this time with community involvement in the vetting process. The closed-door deliberations by the Board of Supervisors that led to Kevin Davis’ selection, coupled with the Board’s failure to address his excessive use of force against a Black man in 1993 and serious misconduct six years later, render the selection process fatally flawed.

Kevin Davis has an impressive resume and appears well versed in police reform. But the prior incidents, which had been reported in the media at the time, cannot be disputed given that two juries awarded judgments and damages against Mr. Davis.

Diane Burkley Alejandro, Lead Advocate for ACLU People Power Fairfax, stated that “Mr. Davis has two strikes against him. The third strike belongs to the Board. Most of us believe in redemption, but the necessary precursors—public disclosure of the incidents at the time the selection was announced, acknowledgement that the conduct was wrong and a Board explanation of why Mr. Davis is still the best candidate—did not take place.”

We have reached out to the Board multiple times asking them to rectify the omissions. We requested:

A pause in Mr. Davis’ start date, set at Monday May 3.

Disclosure of all documentation the Board had about Mr. Davis, as well as court and administrative filings.

The Board declined to delay the start date; we have only received promises that “more information” will be forthcoming. The Board has sought to hide behind its policy that personnel matters should remain private, even though Virginia law allows them to be public.

To date, the Board has not addressed the incidents at all, much less told us whether or not they were aware of the incidents when they made their decision. Press reports indicate that Mr. Spann, the Black man involved in the 1993 incident, apparently was not interviewed as part of the Fairfax selection process. This is especially troublesome because the Prince George's County Human Relations Commission had concluded that this encounter was “an outrageous incident of police misconduct” and that Davis had used excessive force.

We are confident that the “surprise” revelations could have been avoided if community members had been privy to who was under consideration. Community input was sought, but it was a one-way communication. We led a coalition of police reform advocacy groups https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qdqBE7L_cxEAmnHpJ8OpRNyXlQf7S48q/view which asked that community members be included in the selection process, as the Board had done in 2013 when former Chief Roessler was selected. The Board refused.

We cannot stand by and accept the Board’s word that Mr. Davis is the “best” candidate without adequate disclosure. If he is, it will be borne out by the documentation on the prior incidents and the information that the Board considered. A public forum involving Mr. Davis would be welcome, but is not sufficient.

Community trust has plummeted and a cloud of mistrust is gathering over both the Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Police Department. As our past reports have shown, communities of color are most likely to be affected by discriminatory policing.

For these reasons, we believe the process must begin anew.

ACLU People Power Fairfax is a grassroots organization that advocates for equal justice for all members of our community, including undocumented immigrants, regardless of race or ethnicity. To achieve this goal, we seek to end voluntary cooperation with ICE by local and state governments and to reform practices and policies that support systemic racism.

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