After a Fairfax County police officer shot and killed an unarmed driver last year, retired D.C. detective Nicholas Beltrante began calling for a citizen review board that would have the power to investigate charges of police misconduct. Many people resisted the idea, and the effort fizzled. But in December, a panel created by Mount Vernon Supervisor Gerry Hyland recommended that the county create a group of civilians to review complaints.
"This is a major accomplishment and will contribute greatly toward the success of this before the board of supervisors," Hyland says.
Supporters of the idea say a citizen review board will create a greater sense of transparency.
"The Fairfax County Police Department is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States without any sort of independent police review," says Philip Eure, executive director of the Office of Police Complaints in D.C.
That could change in the next few months, when the board of supervisors is expected to consider the issue early this year.
Michael Pope also reports for Northern Virginia's Connection Newspapers.