Arlington Launches Review of Police Policies and Practices

Published on July 16, 2020

Correction:  This news release has been corrected to include the County Attorney and the Commonwealth's Attorney who will both serve as ex-officio members of the group.

  • Fifteen-member citizen group to report back by end of the year

  • External assessment of police practices and group review of policy issues

Following recent events involving policing and racial justice across the United States, the County Board has asked the County Manager to lead a review of police policies and practices. This review will ensure that the Arlington County Police Department is current with policing best practices and continue to build trust between our police and the community.

The first step will be an external review and assessment of current policies and practices in six key areas:

  • Review of use of Force: De-escalation tactics; lethal and non-lethal force; and, foot and vehicle pursuits.

  • Training and Supervision: Police Academy training; and training for implicit bias and crisis intervention.

  • Cameras: Both body-worn and vehicle dash cameras; and policies regarding use of this equipment.

  • Recruitment and Retention: Screening for bias; psychological evaluation; mental health programs; process for officer evaluation; promotion and leadership development programs; and compensation, including pay and benefits.

  • Internal Affairs:Statistics; structures and procedures; effectiveness through an anonymous climate survey; grievance processes; and use of force investigations.

  • Data/Statistics: Reviewing data collected for arrests and stops over the past 3 years and ensuring its consistency.

This external assessment will begin on July 20, 2020 and be led by two parties with expertise in departmental assessments, police practices, policy review, criminal justice reform and conflict analysis: Marcia K. Thompson, Vice President at Hilliard Heintze, an attorney and law enforcement practitioner with more than 20 years working in the criminal justice field; and Dr. Julie Shedd, Associate Dean at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University (see biographies below).

The themes of this assessment will be shared with the 15-member Police Practices Group (PPG) early in the fall and will support the work of the group moving forward. The PPG will begin meeting in August and will also discuss the following four important policy areas:

  • Police civilian review board — what type and approach?

  • The role of the police department in providing mental health services;

  • The role for the police department in traffic enforcement; and

  • The opportunity for alternative dispute resolution, including restorative justice & mediation.

The PPG will use the themes identified during the assessment to inform discussion and work to offer options on the four policy areas and report to the County Manager by December 21, 2020. The PPG will hold public engagement sessions to gather community input on these issues. The results will be provided to the County Manager as he hires a new Police Chief after a national search. (Note: Chief Jay Farr will be retiring before the end of this year). The information will also form the basis of potential recommendations for improvements to the County Board.

County Board Chair Libby Garvey noted that "this group will start us on a journey to tackle the important issues we face as a community regarding public safety for all of our residents. We have a fine police department in Arlington, however, it can and should be better. Arlington Police welcome the review and look forward to being a part of this important effort. These times call for a new look at how our community addresses public safety and policing."

"I want to thank each of those who have agreed to participate in this important work," County Manager Mark Schwartz stated. "This group will hopefully strengthen the bonds of trust between officers and residents of the County and explore the difficult issues facing law enforcement today. Our Police Department has a longstanding history of working with the community to provide professional services and a mission to treat all individuals with respect but also recognizes the need for improvements. Arlington is not immune to the challenges seen elsewhere, and I know that we will be better for the work of this group."

The PPG's first meeting is scheduled for August 3, 2020. View the PPG webpage,


Allison Carpenter, Deputy Public Defender, Arlington County and resident. She has worked with community agencies and organizations to reduce recidivism and promote public safety.

Cicely Whitfield, longtime Arlington resident and advocate. Cicely also serves as the Chief Program Officer for Bridges to Independence, focused on leading individuals and families out of homelessness.

David FitzGerald, member of the Community Service Board, responsible for oversight of services provided by the Department of Human Services to persons challenged by mental health, intellectual disabilities and substance use.

Devanshi Patel, local social justice lawyer focused primarily on juvenile and family law matters; Devanshi also is the Chief Executive Officer of CYFA (Center for Youth and Family Advocacy), which focuses on developing comprehensive solutions to social justice issues to improve the lives of young people and families in Arlington.

Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, Executive Director of Offender Aid and Restoration of Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church, a community-based nonprofit which journeys with specific individuals, adults and youth of all genders, impacted by the criminal legal system and also addresses "the systemic racism responsible for mass incarceration and other structural inequities in our society."

Kathleen McSweeney, active resident and advocate in Arlington County. Previously served on the Planning Commission, serves on the Census Complete Count Committee, and chairs the Joint Facilities Advisory Committee. Kathleen also serves on the Board for Challenging Racism.

Kent Carter, Vice President of the Arlington Branch NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization committed to eliminating race-based discrimination and to ensure the health and well-being of all persons.

Kim Phillip, founding member of Arlington for Justice, a newly formed group working to bring a new era of public safety to our neighborhoods by seeking reform of Arlington's criminal justice system.

LaTasha Chamberlain, Captain, Arlington County Police Department responsible for support service operations.

Matt Puia, Sergeant, Arlington County Police Department, responsible for police operations.

Naomi Verdugo, longtime advocate and active member of the Arlington Mental Health and Disability Alliance, group of local advocates comprised of community members living with mental illness and other disabilities, and their families.

Rodney Turner, former member of Arlington County's Fire Station #8 Task Force and current member of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, is a resident of the High View Park neighborhood for 18 years and a member of the John M. Langston Citizens Association. Rodney is an attorney specializing in financial services regulation.

Saul Reyes, Executive Director of BU-GATA, an advocacy organization founded in 1992 to educate and train Latino leaders in low-income communities facing the threat of displacement. BU-GATA is also interested in addressing racial disparities in policing and other areas of public safety.

Scott Wanek, President of the Arlington Coalition of Police (ACOP), representing current and retired Arlington police officers.

Whytni Kernodle, Co-Founder of Black Parents of Arlington, focused on organizing and empowering black parents for the purpose of improving the lives and education of black children in Arlington.

Note: The County Attorney and the Commonwealth's Attorney will also serve as ex officio members of the group and be asked to attend all meetings.  



Marcia K. Thompson, Esq.

Vice President, Hilliard Heintze Law Enforcement Consulting

Marcia K. Thompson is an attorney and law enforcement practitioner with over 20 years working in the criminal justice field. As a Vice President within the Law Enforcement Consulting practice, she provides oversight, management and technical assistance on law enforcement assessments, trainings and reviews. Marcia has served as a law enforcement administrator at the University of Chicago Police Department, where she oversaw professional standards, accreditation, compliance, training, records management, recruitment, field training, in-service training, leadership development, succession planning, community engagement, youth outreach and the community advisory committee in support of the university's transparency and inclusion initiative.

Marcia has served as an advisor to law enforcement organizations on civil rights and law enforcement issues for over 15 years. She has been an active member of the IACP Civil and Human Rights Committee for over 10 years. In addition, she has provided insight and guidance on timely and novel civil rights and human rights matters impacting law enforcement nationally, including bias-free policing, tasers, use of force, stop and frisk, constitutional policing, procedural justice, hate crimes, and affinity group protections. She has also served as General Counsel and advisor to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) for many years. In both capacities, she provided a legal perspective and civil rights lens on law enforcement, community policing and criminal justice matters.

Marcia is a Virginia Supreme Court certified mediator as well as a collaborative problem-solver, change management facilitator, and equal employment opportunity (EEO) and civil rights professional. While serving as an Ombudsman for an entire federal agency, she impartially handled agency-wide concerns and trends regarding policy, practices and procedures. For many years, Marcia has served as a federal fact finder, EEO investigator and hearing officer, providing neutral hearings and drafting administrative appellate determinations. She has conducted large facilitated dialogues with community members on police departments and other related public services in several cities, including Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, Louisiana; Chicago, Illinois; and Baltimore, Maryland. She has participated in and held other facilitated dialogues on workplace and community topics, and taught others to use similar facilitative and problem- solving techniques to engage pertinent stakeholders.

Marcia has provided advisory and consulting services to national law enforcement organizations for over 15 years. She led Hillard Heintze's team of subject-matter experts working with the Denver Sheriff's Department, focusing on use of force, management issues, staffing, and training. She has led law enforcement assessments and training, technical assistance and compliance work at police departments ranging from: Birmingham, Alabama; Gainesville, Florida; Murfreesboro Tennessee, Virgin Islands, Winslow Township and Boulder, Colorado.

Marcia was a professor for almost 10 years at Bowie State University, teaching criminal justice, social justice, civil rights, conflict resolution, juvenile analysis, criminology, criminal law, constitutional law, criminal procedure, evidence, trial and advocacy practice, victimology, rule of law, mediation, police management, intelligence, and public records and ethics. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University and her Juris Doctorate from George Mason University School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Virginia.


Julie Shedd, Associate Dean and Associate Professor

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University

Dr. Shedd is currently the Associate Dean of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason. She teaches both introductory and research methods courses and courses on terrorism, extremism, global conflicts, and ideologies. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University and a BA in Political Science and Psychology from George Washington University. Her research includes work on the relationship of media to conflict, specifically focused on media coverage of terrorism and the role of women in political violence. She has shepherded the Carter School's efforts to increase distance education and overseen a wide range of innovations in experiential and service learning. She served as the academic project manager for the development of the school's Point of View International Retreat and Research Center. Her practice engagements include media literacy and dialogue training, conflict resolution in schools, police community engagement projects, and a series of community engagement processes for local government.