FAIRFAX FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE • LODGE #77
On behalf of my membership I would like to convey just how disappointed and disheartened we are with your recent statements and actions. It has become abundantly clear that your political agenda trumps your obligation to being a fair and impartial leader. When you publicly excoriate an officer under your command, characterizing their actions as “disgusting” without even a nascent investigation, you have crossed the line from Chief of Police to that of politician playing dress up. In a past news conference from October, 2019, prior to the completion of an administrative investigation you made a comment to the media that “the officer is being punished”. In that case the officer had not even been interviewed as part of the internal investigation. You are to be the last step in a discipline related matter and are to be fair and impartial but your comments show that you already have a predetermined outcome before ever knowing the facts of the case.
In the case of Officer Timberlake, your egregious actions and slanderous statements, have effectively ended the career and impugned the reputation of a Fairfax County Police Officer. Seeing this, officers on the street have been limiting their interaction with the public and have been hesitating to use force even when appropriate, which is a safety issue for all parties concerned, including the offender and the public. I was appalled to hear you say at the press conference “my disgust with my officer’s “unacceptable criminal actions” and “the horrible use of force” before the completion of either a criminal or administrative investigation. Your comment that, “You thank God that the subject was still alive” when his life was never in danger because of your officer’s actions. Your inflammatory statements have undue alarm in the communities that your officers serve and caused irreparable damage to community trust. You further failed to follow well established investigative protocols and policies by making the following comments “I will assure that the police department will serve justice in the best way we can for that accountability”, “we will hold everyone accountable in the horrible event” and “behavior like this shall not be tolerated”. Again as the last step in a discipline related matter your comment “I will move swiftly with the administrative investigation to make the legal determination as to Officer Timberlake’s employment” shows that you already have a predetermined outcome to this case and cannot be fair and impartial.
In this country, citizens, including police officers, have the right to due process. This is one of the precepts that is granted by the U.S. Constitution and protected by police officers every day. As the Chief of police, you have a duty to protect the due process rights of all, including the officers of your own agency. In this circumstance, you had an opportunity to respect the rights of Officer Timberlake, but you chose to rush to judgement, and demonize him in a public forum, thereby jeopardizing his right to a fair trial. Officer Timberlake deserves better.
In the wake of Officer Timberlake’s case, The FOP Lodge 77, created a climate survey titled The Governance and Leadership Survey – June 2020. The survey was opened upon verification, to members of the Fairfax County Police Department, sworn, non-sworn and even retired employees.
Retirees you ask? It’s a sad day when you have to take a phone call from a mentor who is ashamed to say they are retired from the Fairfax County Police Department because of its leader. In that survey, there were some two questions, one in particular asked if you participated in the 2018 Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP) sworn FCPD climate survey administered by George Mason University. There was an open-ended question about low morale and a general disconnect between officers and command staff.
The findings were as follows: “Generally, sworn personnel tended to disagree with statements about a positive work environment. They do not agree that command staff is open to their ideas or that there are good reasons behind new changes implemented by command staff. Respondents tended to perceive that FCPD cares more about its civilian employees than its sworn officers.” On follow up, the FOP simply asked if you participated in the CEBCP survey and if conditions have improved since 2018. 75.13% of respondents strongly disagreed and 11.50% disagreed that conditions have improved.
Another question asked, “Thinking back to Chief Roessler’s public statements and actions regarding the ICE administrative warrant incident from October, 2019 and the June 5, 2020 incident involving PFC Timberlake, do you believe Chief Roessler’s actions violated the Fairfax County Code of Ethics?”
The Fairfax County Code of Ethics was then listed verbatim under that question for reference. It should be noted that it is also incorporated in the FCPD general order G.O. 001. 85.26% of respondents stated “Yes” while 14.44% stated “No”.
Another question asked, “How has Chief Roessler’s recent actions and public statements affected overall morale?” 99.2% of respondents stated that morale is worse and 0.8% stated it was about the same.
Another question asked, “In today’s current political climate, if involved in a use of force incident resulting in serious injury or death, Chief Roessler will conduct himself fairly and impartially, and will “have my back.” How strongly do you agree or disagree with that statement?”
92.59% of respondents strongly disagreed, 6.08% disagreed, and 1.06% neither agreed nor disagreed.
The last question in the survey asked, “Would you support a formal request for Chief Roessler to resign from his position”?
98.42% of respondents answered “Yes” and 1.58% answered “No”.
As the President of the Fairfax Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 77 myself, my membership and officers of your department no longer have confidence in your ability to be the Chief of the Fairfax County Police Department and ask you respectively to resign your position immediately.
Brad Carruthers President, Fairfax Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 77.