Fairfax cops expand bodycam test

A third police district is being added to the Fairfax County police districts that will be testing body cameras.

Last month Fairfax County supervisors okayed a pilot camera program in the Mount Vernon and Mason police districts. Supervisors chose those districts were selected because of the diversity of their communities and the varying types of calls during which force has to be used.

Now the Reston district has been added to the test. Police officials say that test planners have determined that they enough cameras to do that without adding to the cost. That’s because the 230 cameras were, initially, going to be issued to every patrol officer working at the Mount Vernon and Mason stations. But, it was decided that there should be a “control group” of officers in each district to allow for more accurate test data.  This way, the research team will be able to compare data between officers who have and have not been issued a body camera and who work the same shift within the same area of the county. As a result, only half the patrol officers in each of the stations will be issued a bodycam. This leaves a number of cameras available allowing a third district station to be added to the pilot program. It also gives other officers a chance to test and evaluate the equipment.

The Reston area was chosen because it’s different from the two police districts already included in the program. The patrol areas within the Reston district include a number of high-rise buildings as well as stops along Metro’s Silver Line. Additionally, the Reston District police station is the newest building among Fairfax County’s police stations and already has the physical infrastructure in place to accommodate the technical needs of the program.

The body camera pilot program is expected to begin next March.



About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at FairfaxNews. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years.  This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns.  He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C. He has won two Ohio State Awards for his reporting and producing and he led coverage that won an Edward R. Murrow Award.