Email signup

As staffing challenges continue, FCPD partners with GMU to study officers

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and GMU professor Dr. Cynthia Lum announce a long-term study of local police officers (via FCPD/Facebook)

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) The Fairfax County Police Department and George Mason University have joined forces with an Arlington-based think tank to study how the attitudes and behavior of police officers evolve over the course of their careers.

Touted as the first of its kind in the U.S., the long-term or longitudinal study is intended to give the FCPD and other police departments a better understanding of how to address staffing challenges by following a select group of officers, potentially over decades.

The results could inform the FCPD’s recruiting efforts and provide a new look at what makes someone a successful police officer, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a 1 p.m. press conference, noting that divorce, suicide, alcoholism and domestic violence rates among police are “higher than the national norm.”

“We’re really happy to engage in this long-term journey to figure out what success looks like for Fairfax County, because we want to continue to lead on behalf of our profession,” Davis said. “We think over time and hopefully over many years, we’ll learn a lot more about who wants to become part of this profession and, once they enter our ranks, what determines their trajectory for success.”

Looking at both applicants and current officers, the study will be conducted independently by Dr. Cynthia Lum, a criminology professor in GMU’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, and the National Policing Institute.

With a gift provided by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2022, the institute is funding the estimated $300,000 cost of the study’s first three years. That includes $186,401 that went to GMU to support its costs, according to National Policing Institute President Jim Burch.

Researchers hope to get enough money from public and private funders to continue the study for 10 to 20 years, Lum said.

With a current vacancy rate of 206 positions, the FCPD has been operating under a personnel emergency since July 2022, meaning officers are required to work overtime with two shifts in rotation instead of the usual three.

Compensation has emerged as the top concern from interviews with officers, though it’s not the only one, according to FCPD Administrative Support Bureau Commander Major Gregory Fried, citing a desire for a better work-life balance as another issue that has come up.

The police department has recently committed more money to job advertising and pay for public safety workers, along with efforts to modernize the hiring process. The next academy class starting April 24 will have 58 graduates, the most in a decade, Davis said.

Still, officer recruitment and retention have become a struggle for law enforcement agencies across the country.

“We’re losing some of our best, and we struggle to bring in the best as well. As we face these challenges, though, taxpayers rightfully expect more,” Burch said. “Communities want more effective and fair policing. They want safer communities…The reality is policing is a profession. It’s not a vocation…We must invest, and that’s what this study is about, investing in those who step up to serve in their communities.”

The national exodus of officers has frequently been attributed to declining morale in the face of heightened public scrutiny, but Covid and mass early retirements may be bigger contributors to burnout, according to The Marshall Project, which reported earlier this year that local government employment in general has dropped since 2020.

Burch hopes to see the study of Fairfax County police officers replicated in other jurisdictions.

“What we learn here in Fairfax County will inform and improve policing across the United States,” Burch said.

The FCPD is also working with the D.C. nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) on a review of shootings by its officers, which increased last year. That study was initiated in early March after Maryland resident Timothy Johnson was shot and killed outside Tysons Corner Center on Feb. 22.

Davis announced on March 23 that the officer who fired the fatal shot that evening had been fired.

Recent Stories

This past week saw 218 homes sold in Fairfax County. The least expensive condo, single-family home or townhouse sale over the past seven days was $180,000 while the most expensive…

Today (Thursday) marks a decade of community service, youth leadership, political activism and civic engagement in Virginia by the Hamkae Center. Over the last 10 years, the local nonprofit has…

The Faith Baptist Church that has occupied 301 Center Street South in Vienna for about seven decades will officially be torn down. Faced with increasing maintenance costs, the Vienna Town…

Arrowbrook Centre, an anchoring mixed-use neighborhood near the Innovation Center Metro station, is moving one step forward to completion. Several pieces of the 54-acre development, which is bounded by the…

Camps are just the beginning of what’s in store at Art House 7 this summer. We’re thrilled to offer an array of exciting classes for both kids and adults!Rediscover your creativity with some of our AH7 favorites, such as drawing, hand-sewing, modern embroidery, and our popular 3-week Jump into Crochet classes. But that’s not all! We’ve added some fresh and exciting options to our summer class selection, guaranteed to spark your imagination.

To enhance your artistic journey, we have intensified some of our Ceramics: The Wheel classes to a full 3-hour duration. This extended time allows for more creativity and skill development in each class session. If you’re eager for a captivating twist, give Contemporary Still-Life Drawing & Painting a go. Or why not try an immersive outdoor painting adventure? We have a unique opportunity for you to bring your painting skills to life while learning and creating in the great outdoors with our Landscape Painting: Studio and Plein Air class!

We invite you to visit our website and explore our full Summer Session schedule, brimming with a diverse range of classes and camps. Classes and camps begin June 20th. Unleash your inner artist, broaden your horizons, and embark on a summer adventure like no other. Let’s make this a summer to remember at Art House 7!

Submit your own Community Post here.

Potomac Harmony Chorus has a new director! We’re ready
to kick off the season with new music, a new approach, and YOU!

Potomac Harmony is one of 500 choruses in Sweet
Adelines International. We’re a vibrant,
contemporary, inclusive, welcoming, and open community of women singers who
perform four-part harmony, barbershop style, committed to a high level of
achievement through teaching, mentoring, personal growth, and performance. Our vision is to entertain, educate, and
enrich lives through musical expression while promoting the barbershop art

Potomac Harmony recently had our first performance
with our new director, receiving rave reviews! We invite you to stop by any Wednesday
evening and be part of the fun and harmony!

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Army Birthday Festival – Free and Fun

Make Saturday, June 10, 2023 a great day!

Come celebrate the Army Birthday Festival at the National Museum of the U.S. Army from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Rain or Shine!

• Experience outdoor and indoor fun activities, for all

Unveiling of West Ford historical highway marker

Gum Springs will be celebrating 190 years of its founding by freedman West Ford on Saturday, June 17, 2023. To kick-off the celebration, there will be an unveiling of a Virginia historical highway marker for West Ford on Fordson Road


Subscribe to our mailing list