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May 31, 2020 · OPINION

Sheriff’ office committed to civil rights, engagement

By Robert P. Mosier
Fauquier County Sheriff

The recent tragedies that occurred in Georgia and Minnesota are egregious and have far reaching impacts on communities and law enforcement agencies throughout our country. The deaths of two African American men involving bias is shocking to us all.

The national upheaval over the unnecessary loss of life again focuses America’s eyes on the issues of policing and training regarding the use of force by law enforcement agencies. The misuse of force is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with swiftly and all involved need to be held accountable. 

When I was first elected, the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office began to focus on defining our identity in terms of service to the public. We consider ourselves to be guardians of our community. We are building law enforcement leaders to serve as facilitators and problem solvers.  We believe that every deputy and employee have the potential of being a leader.

From the moment our men and women are sworn in, they take an oath to protect and defend, and therefore, to serve as good examples for the community. 

At the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, we have created a culture in which we have a sense of duty to intervene when we individually or collectively witness behavior on behalf of a deputy that is unprofessional and or would be a violation of law.  

Communities have a right to expect more. If uniformed officers observe their colleagues using poor judgment in handling an incident and do not intervene or when it’s clear that another law enforcement officer has done something wrong, citizens have a right to and should ask questions. 

Recently, Warrenton Police Chief Mike Kochis, Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Hook and I joined a community discussion. Our focus was on how law enforcement would handle a similar incident as the one that took place in in Glynn County, Georgia. Could what happened to Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County happen here?

My response to the question of whether local law enforcement was fair and impartial in the Georgia case is: “No.” 

And now, we have another unthinkable death at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota. The death of George Floyd is flagrant. “How could this have happened? A bystander’s video, showing a police officer compressing the neck of a suspect for several minutes with other officers watching, is appalling.  

Fauquier County is committed to the protection of the civil rights of everyone. The sheriff’s office became accredited a few years ago through a rigorous process, which makes us accountable through continuing checks and balances. All of our sworn personnel have or will go through intense Crisis Intervention Training, as well as continued Leadership Development Training. 

A former assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division once noted that often community engagement is missing in the police departments that they investigate.  We in Fauquier County are committed to continued community engagement. We gain our legitimacy to police from those we serve.

Through town hall meetings, community discussions, the Sheriff’s Advisory Board, having our deputies visible at community events, Coffee with a Cop, public hearings and many other avenues, our citizens have opportunities to speak their minds and to be heard. I have an open-door policy and am willing to speak with individuals and groups in my office.

If in the event something were to go wrong in our community, we would be transparent and hold those responsible accountable under the law. 
Member comments
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Truepat · June 2, 2020 at 6:26 am
I know for a fact that in Federal Arrest Authority training it is taught over and over that once you handcuff someone, you are responsible for their well being 100%. Their are guidelines as to the position they can be kept in and how to get them up off the ground until they can be transported. Federally, this is strictly enforced. I would assume that the local training would encompass the same stringent training. To make it clear, if you hanbcuff someone you are legally responsible for their well being, no question.
FairandBalanced · June 1, 2020 at 8:13 pm
So Mosier. What I would like to know is has your service, your department, your office and your deputies, who are here to protect and to serve, banned the restraint method use on George Floyd who died at the hands of a criminally charged cop (maybe plural if there is justice in the world) who are now facing justice and its consequences. Can you answer that question? Same for our newest resident police authority, Kochis?
Tom LaHaye · June 1, 2020 at 6:10 pm
Thank you Sheriff Mosier.
Silii · June 1, 2020 at 11:00 am
Thank you, Sheriff Mosier. Now, let's take a look at what started the demonstrating and rioting. We've all seen the footage of an armed white cop murdering a black man in the full light of day for all to see. The white man forcefully pressed his knee into the neck of the restrained, facedown on the street,black man as he begged for his life, as he repeated "I can't breathe."The white man kneeing him had his hand shoved deeply into his pocket. Hmmm. We also see 3 armed white cops standing there watching and ignoring the black man's pleas for his very life. We see all for of the white men ignoring shouts and pleas from witnesses to the murder in progress to stop. And the white supremacists, as they run to suit up and grab their automatic weapons to pose for macho pictures, wonder why there are riots reflecting deep anger in this country?
Jim Griffin · June 1, 2020 at 9:38 am
Sammy is right, Section 7 of the VA Bill of Rights is interesting:

"Section 7. Laws should not be suspended. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised."

Non-enforcement of the new gun laws is not a power possessed by the sheriff. It will be up to the courts, not the sheriff, not county boards of supervisors.
Jerome Fields · June 1, 2020 at 9:33 am
American Patriot - "I would love to hear the sheriff make an unequivocal statement regarding his definite support of our constitution. ALL of the constitution."

Didn't you forget someone? Why not start at the top? Mr. Trump lied on his mothers' bible inauguration day they he would defend the Constitution. He has subverted it at every opportunity.
Jim Griffin · June 1, 2020 at 7:44 am
How can we know the identity of the rioters? Not only are they a diverse group, but they aren't wearing uniforms with identifying markings.

What does an antifa person wear, anyway? And what's to say these Boogaloo Boies aren't dressing to fit in? The reporter offered ample proof.

Those expected to know (e.g., Texas Public Safety officials) say White Racists are the greatest domestic terror threats. You and me watch on TV. I'm listening to professionals, and my position is that there are many responsible and they should all face justice.

You claim to know it's antifa. How do you know?
FalconDad · June 1, 2020 at 2:27 am
If there’s looting or other security issues here I hope that Sheriff Mosier will deputize local citizens with carry conceal permits to protect local businesses. I’m pretty sure the Culpeper Sheriff is already open to that idea. I saw on the news actually un-armed citizens in Minneapolis protecting their local Target from looting tonight. Awesome!

As for people reporting that bugaboo or what ever it’s called causing riots they are incorrect. Those guys are dressed in all camo with assault rifles hanging off their chests. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see any of that on the news tonight.

FairandBalanced · June 1, 2020 at 12:06 am
Sir, what is your position on enforcing Northam's pandemic executive orders? Will you enforce the new gun control laws enacted and signed into law by the Governor? How do you feel about sanctuary's of any nature? When Trump is elected out of office and he declares the election null and void where will you stand?
Sammy · May 31, 2020 at 12:24 pm
section 7 of the Virginia Bill of Rights

'nuff said
AmericanPatriot · May 31, 2020 at 9:43 am
I would love to hear the sheriff make an unequivocal statement regarding his definite support of our constitution. ALL of the constitution.

We saw what the 90+% counties had to say.
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