On December 16th, the MCA hosted a very well-attended virtual Public Safety Forum with Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney, Steve Descano. After opening remarks from MCA President, Rob Jackson, the MCA Public Safety Liaison, Patrick Smaldore gave a short bio of Mr Descano and moderated the forum.
Mr Descano reported that by the end of 2021, the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) will almost fully implement body-worn cameras. Although he viewed this as an important and helpful development, full implementation will require additional personnel for his office to ensure that video footage is thoroughly reviewed to assist with prosecutions and make sure that innocent persons are not prosecuted.
Attorney Descano also provided an update on the 2020 VA General Assembly Special Session’s legislative changes to promote criminal justice reform and the implications for the FCPD. The changes included diversion programs to promote rehabilitation in lieu of incarceration, enacting police use-of-force reforms, including banning chokeholds, and requiring police officers to intervene if a fellow police officer is using excessive force.
Mr. Descano also advocated for a reform of the bail system, which can have an unfair and disproportion effect on people with less financial means. He advised that the decision to impose bail, and the amount of bail, should based on the seriousness of the crime a person is accused of committing and whether they present a danger to the community.
Mr Descano also took a series of questions from members of the audience and from moderator Patrick Smaldore who asked a number of questions relating to a resolution the MCA passed in July 2020 regarding criminal justice reform. (Click here to see the resolution: MCA Resolution on Police Violence against African Americans and Other Residents - July 1, 2020; and click here to see the MCA resolution on Body Worn Cameras from September 2019: MCA Resolution re Police Body Worn Cameras (Sept. 4, 2019)).
To view the video of the public forum with Mr. Descano, please click here: https://bfc-demo.s3.amazonaws.com/MCA/202012+-+MCA+Public+Safety+Decano.mp4
For local media coverage of the event please click here:
Sun Gazette: Weekend Dec. 25-26-27, 2020.pdf (wsimg.com)
Tysons Reporter: Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Talks Reform with MCA | Tysons Reporter