Miyares recently paid a visit to the Fairfax County Police Association for a candid conversation with members of law enforcement, revealing some of the Attorney General’s gravest concerns.
Murders have increased, rape and other sex crimes have increased too, and there has been an uptick in assaults in Fairfax County. This is all according to data from Fairfax County Police Department which was recently released by the Virginia State Police.
“We are seeing an explosion of issues like fentanyl and opioid addiction, gang activity,” Miyares told 7News. “Candidly, I think the most important quality in the position I’m in is just listening. And I’ve been getting around the state talking to law enforcement talking about their challenges, what they’ve seen what they’ve experienced. And so my first goal is to get to Fairfax and listen to the men and women at the front lines, what they’re seeing out in the community, what are the challenges and more importantly what are the walls, what are the practices we’ve seen in Virginia that is making it harder for them to do their jobs and part of my goal is to make sure they understand that they have support in Richmond by myself and from the governor. I’m there to listen.”
“Some of it is they need to be paid better, I know the governor put in money for us to get pay raises for law enforcement at all levels of government,” said Miyares.
“But a lot of them feel like the last couple years they’ve been nothing but demonized. They’ve felt like they have had leaders elected leaders at the state level and sometimes in the local level that haven’t had their back.”
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and senior staff have recently declared a personnel emergency, according to a police source, which means mandatory overtime for police officers as FCPD grapples with an ongoing police officer shortage. During his Q&A session with the Fairfax County Police Association, Miyares also heard from other officers concerned about staffing. Fairfax County is down nearly 200 officers. Moderator Maggie DeBoard, Herndon’s police chief, agreed.
“The applicant pool is now a puddle,” said Chief DeBoard.
Some Fairfax County police officers fear the mandatory overtime and reducing three shifts to two patrol shifts will add to more police resigning from the force.
“The irony of it all is that we asked for a 10% raise and they said they couldn’t afford it, but now they are going to be paying each officer at least 10% more just in that overtime money alone because they will have 7 1/2 hours of overtime pay each pay period,” a police union source told 7News Nick Minock.
“What’s even more sad is that a lot of people are going to have major childcare issues, because it not only gets rid of the evening shift, but it changes the start and end times for dayshift and night shift. So more people will leave now because they can’t have that schedule for their childcare needs. And it’s less safe because during peak hours, like 3 p.m., we had daywork and evening units working, so you had 22-26 officers depending on each station. Now that it’s two shifts, it’ll only have 10-12 officers covering during peak times.”
What the AG wanted to impress upon the most to this group on this night is that he has their back.
“When I go to work in the morning I put on a coat and tie. For the people in this room you go to work in the morning you have to put on a bullet proof vest. That’s a part of your job. It’s the hardest job in America,” said Miyares.
While the staffing crisis in the fairfax county police department may be ongoing, with a little help from Miayres, hopefully they can start making some headway into the increase in violent crime that is happening in the area, as well as get more democrats to appreciate their value.