Arlington is committed to advancing best practices to align with 21st Century Policing strategies. Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz offers an update focused on key areas of policing: use of force; training; cameras; pursuits; recruitment; internal affairs; data and transparency. The County Manager highlights areas of progress and steps to advance policy and practice in the future. Watch the video.
Additional Background: ACPD Areas of Growth
The Arlington County Police Department is actively working across these areas to advance 21st Century policing.
Use of Force – Our Police Department has created an internal workgroup to review current policies and ensure they are aligned with best practices. Although excessive use of force has never been tolerated and our officers have been providing emergency medical treatment for years, additional language was added to our Use of Force policy to formalize current practices.
- This includes that the use of force must be discontinued when an individual is no longer resisting or when the incident is under control and requiring that officers must administer first aid, request medics and/or arrange transport to an emergency medical facility at the first instance possible.
- Additionally, in recognizing the sanctity of life, our Duty to Intervene is now a stand-alone policy, to elevate its importance and visibility.
Training – Our Police Department has developed a number of programs to prepare officers for Active Violence Events, led by the Tactical Training Unit. We are expanding our in-house training efforts by focusing on advanced development of non-tactical skills including de-escalation, crisis intervention, and recognizing bias.
- Currently, officers complete a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training shortly after beginning solo patrol. Later this year, we will be establishing Advanced and Refresher CIT Courses, in coordination with our colleagues in the Department of Human Services, to ensure these skills are maintained and reflect current best practices.
- De-escalation techniques, to include effective communication, active listening, empathy, time, and distancing and these are taught and constantly reinforced throughout our departmental training curriculum and we will continue to identify areas to expand training opportunities.
- In addition to the cultural diversity training that is part of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ recertification process, the Police Department is committed to advancing bias training for all staff by expanding training on topical areas such as implicit bias, cross-cultural awareness, race and ethnicity equity, and training on our Bias-Free Policing Policy.
Cameras – In December, the County implemented a body worn camera program and officers assigned to the operations division and some specialty units began recording all dispatched calls for service, enforcement contacts and investigative contacts.
- Prior to implementation, the Police Department sought community feedback on a draft policy to ensure it was reflective of the Arlington Community’s values, interests and concerns.
- By the end of June, we will expand the text of the policy to formalize current practices, clarifying language that all staff with assigned body worn cameras must use them during assigned shifts or while performing the duties of the specialty units and address requirements for signing a camera out, when needed.
Pursuits – Our Police Department recognizes that an appropriate balance must be struck between apprehending individuals responsible for violent criminal incidents and the risks posed by a vehicle pursuit. As such, the police department has a restrictive pursuit policy limited to incidents of violent felonies or use or threatened use of a firearm.
- To ensure our policy is reflective of current best practices, we are reviewing sample policies by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and other organizations regarding the risks associated when others are present in vehicle pursuits, especially when minors are involved.
- As noted in the video by County Manager, Mark Schwartz, “we are also developing a foot pursuit policy on how and when to engage that incorporates best practices and balances the risks to the parties involved with the need for an immediate apprehension”.
Recruitment and Retention – To provide the best professional law enforcement services to the Arlington community, the Police Department strives to hire personnel that reflect our community’s demographics.
- Building on the successes of the Ambassador Program, which focuses on building relationships with college students, professors and campuses and our certification as a Virginia Values Veterans (V3) employer, our Personnel and Recruitment Unit will continue to diligently work to recruit individuals from all backgrounds who possess the necessary qualifications to serve Arlington’s diverse and inclusive community.
Internal Affairs – The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is tasked with ensuring compliance with department policy and procedures, internal audits on all allegations of misconduct and any concerns of use or misuse of equipment, personnel, or training.
- Our Police Department will continue our practice of having each investigation reviewed up the chain of command where each level, from Sergeant through Deputy Chief, either agrees or modifies the findings and recommendations.
- All OPR investigations, and formal discipline is thoroughly reviewed and approved by the Chief of Police. Details of these investigations will be shared with the Civilian Review Board, once established.
Data and Transparency – We are committed to effectively communicating to ensure the public’s trust and confidence. We encourage people to stay informed regarding criminal incidents by visiting the online crime map, daily crime report and subscribing to police news.
- We are currently exploring ways to expand published data including developing an online dashboard for the public with current data and demographics, reviewing the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force to see what additional data can be made available, and ensuring data collection under Virginia’s Community Policing Act.