A plan to consolidate the duties of Fairfax County’s Department of Animal Sheltering (DAS) and Animal Protection Police (APP) is drawing some pushback from the local police union.
Last month, county staff proposed to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors that DAS take charge of both animal care services and enforcement of animal protection laws, which would be carried out by animal control officers (ACOs). The recommendation came from both DAS and Fairfax County Police Department leaders.
However, the county’s chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (SSPBA), the elected union for the FCPD, argues the planned consolidation would have substantial negative impacts on the department’s existing animal protection police officers (APPOs), the community, pets, and wildlife.
“ACOs have different authorities and are not considered law enforcement officers under Virginia code, which would be a fundamental change to the position as it has been historically implemented in Fairfax County,” SSPBA Fairfax County President Steve Monahan told FFXnow.
Under the proposal, animal control officers would have a similar scope of authority as APPOs and handle all calls for service, including investigations of animal cruelty, search warrants, and rabies vaccinations. Currently, the FCPD’s Animal Protection Police unit handles encounters between humans and animals, including potential criminal situations.
ACOs would still get required training through the Commonwealth of Virginia, but they wouldn’t go through the police academy as APPOs do. The FCPD would continue to assist with criminal investigations.
“The proposed reduction of legal authority of ACOs within DAS’s model would inevitably result in FCPD patrol officers being tasked with additional animal-related responsibilities despite not having the same level of animal-related training as our current, fully sworn APPOs,” Monahan said.
The SSPBA says ACOs elsewhere in the state regularly fight for better pay, benefits, and training. The union believes Fairfax County’s proposal would exploit officers by requiring the same work with less pay.
“The county is proposing to replace the current structure with one that includes positions with less enforcement authority, less training, and fewer employee benefits and protections than their predecessors,” Monahan said. “Typically, whenever employees are asked to do the same work with less protections and benefits, this results in a high turnover rate and significant difficulty in filling vacancies.”
According to the staff presentation on Jan. 30, the county’s decision to split animal care and control functions between the DAS and the police department in 2016 didn’t “result in a successful integration of two separate departments working together to provide animal services.”
DAS Director Reasa Currier told FFXnow that having animal care and control services run by two departments with different missions is expensive and ineffective.
“Uniting animal care and control services under one department and utilizing Animal Control Officers will bring our county in alignment with surrounding jurisdictions and industry best practices, allow us to expand service delivery to our community, and reduce costs,” Currier said.
Additionally, she expressed confidence that ACOs can fully enforce animal protection laws, investigate cruelty and neglect, and rescue and transport wildlife.
DAS is also working closely with the SSPBA to ensure that APPOs aren’t negatively affected by the change and that their pay and retirement stay the same, according to Currier.
“This proposed model positions the county to meet the diverse needs of our residents and has worked successfully for decades in Alexandria, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, the District of Columbia, Montgomery County and in jurisdictions nationwide,” Currier said.
If the proposal is included in the county executive’s advertised budget for fiscal year 2025, which will be presented on Feb. 20, the Board of Supervisors can then decide whether to adopt it.
Photo via FCPD
Good Friday evening, Fairfax County. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier…
Friday night’s performance by comedian Nate Bargatze is expected to draw the largest crowd ever to EagleBank Arena on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University, according to Monumental Sports…
Reston Association has adopted a new strategic plan that aims to continue the vision of Reston’s founder Bob Simon over the next three years.
A 93-year-old woman died earlier this week from injuries she sustained in a car crash on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) in Bailey’s Crossroads, police say. Gladys Bilbao, a Falls Church…
Great Clips at South Lakes Village Center (Reston, Virginia) is seeking hair donors to participate in the Wigs for Kids program this Valentines Week. If you meet the minimum requirements and would like to donate your hair for children fighting cancer, we would love to host you in our salon this Valentine’s Week for a free haircut.
Hair donations must be a minimum of 12 inches
Hair donations must be clean and stored/packaged completely dry.
Hair donations cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted.
Temporary coloring or highlights that wash out are acceptable but must be completely washed out before cutting. Gray hair is accepted.
Peace in Gaza: Prayer Liturgy and Community Discussion for Peace in Arlington VA, Sunday, Feb. 11, 10:15 AM
Prayer, liturgy, and community discussion for peace in Gaza, an immediate cease fire and resumption of humanitarian aid will be hosted by Nova Catholic Community. The focus will be Pope Francis’ call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, resumption of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, and peace talks for a lasting and just peace for all people in the region.
Discussion will follow at Noon on US military role in the conflict and appropriate steps the US should take to foster peace and rebuilding. Light lunch served.
The Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Active Bystander Certification course, also known as Active Bystander, is the premier training program to prepare civilians for how to respond during an intentional violent event and to address life-threatening emergencies.
Similar to FEMA’s