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Fairfax Moves Closer To Citizen Review Of Police

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By Michael Pope

Ever since a Fairfax police officer shot and killed an unarmed driver on Richmond Highway last year, county residents have been clamoring for more information. County leaders were initially hesitant. But then former D.C. police detective Nicholas Beltrante started building community support for the idea.

"There is no transparency," says Beltrante. "They fall under the loophole in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, which allows the police department to use its discretion as to what they want to release."

Beltrante and others formed a group that is demanding a citizen review board. Now, police spokeswoman Tawny Wright says the Fairfax Police Department has launched a formal review.

"We are in the process of gathering best practices from police departments around the country," says Wright. "There are a variety of oversight models that exist, and we are looking at them closely to determine which one is the most accessible," he says.

Virginia is one of 14 states that currently has no citizen review of police agencies.

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