The Purcellville Town Council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding for the town’s police department to participate in a newly created Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) at a virtual council meeting Tuesday night.
The CIRT was created by the Northern Virginia Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Committee with the purpose to investigate critical incidents involving law enforcement officers within the cooperating jurisdictions.
According to a statement from the CIRT, the team is composed of criminal detectives, crime scene technicians, and commanders from 11 participating agencies.
Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister presented the concept at the Town Council meeting. McAlister said she attends regular meetings with a Northern Virginia Police Chief’s group, which provides support and resources.
Currently, Purcellville does not have adequate staff nor expertise to conduct their own criminal investigation of critical incidents involving their sworn personnel without outside assistance, according to McAlister.
She said that using the CIRT will also benefit by minimizing any potential bias that could evolve during the investigation of a department’s own personnel. Therefore, this model adds a level of transparency as well as varying perspectives as the investigation takes place.
Each participating agency in Northern Virginia will have the option of calling upon this multi-jurisdictional team to investigate incidents within their localities.
These incidents include law enforcement-involved shootings, any action taken by law enforcement that results in the death or a life-threatening injury of a person in the performance of an officer/deputy’s duties, in-custody deaths and law enforcement officer suicides.
At the completion of a comprehensive and impartial investigation, the Critical Incident Response Team will present the facts and evidence of the investigation to the local Commonwealth Attorney’s Office or designated prosecuting authority. The agency where the incident occurred will continue to conduct their own separate administrative investigation.
The creation of this multi-jurisdictional team will provide an efficient, effective and standardized investigation of these high-profile events, according to the release.Additional participating law enforcement agencies include: Arlington County Police Department, Fairfax City Police Department, Falls Church Police Department, Herndon Police Department, Leesburg Police Department, Manassas Park Police Department, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department, Prince Williams County Police Department, and Vienna Police Department.