Prince William County Police Department Chief Barry Barnard met with residents at his ‘Conversations with the Chief’ meeting in Woodbridge.
Conversations with the Chief is a series that Barnard plans to host throughout the year, to provide Prince William residents with the chance to learn more about what the department is doing, and voice their concerns.
To kick things off, Barnard spoke about the implementation of the body-worn cameras that officers will begin wearing, with the initial implementation scheduled for September 5 through Thanksgiving.
“As we move forward, we will be looking for feedback – we’re gonna learn together – this is all new for us, and it’s all new for you. And we don’t claim to be experts,” said Barnard.
Barnard spoke about his goal to have officers and public safety personnel into the Central District police station by the end of the calendar year, a $28.6 million project located along Davis Ford Road.
In addition to the new police station, Barnard spoke about the potential for a new animal control facility, and the need to expand the police training facility.
According to Barnard, the animal control facility is further along, as the department will be offering a presentation to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) on August 1.
“The [Police] Academy opened in 1995, we’ve grown, and we have a great training program…but it’s a little cramped out there sometimes,” said Barnard, stating that the department has around 650 officers currently.
One area that Barnard said needed improvement was the diversity within the ranks of the police force.
“You want to have a police department that is diverse, that is kind of a reflection of the community. So we don’t. We just don’t. We work hard at it – we have more work to do,” said Barnard.
Barnard urged people to apply to work for the department, and said Prince William police are looking at strategies to increase diversity.
In response to an audience question, Barnard addressed the question of how the local police force plays a role with individuals that are undocumented.
“As a police department we have a responsibility to serve all people. All people, regardless of who they are…whether you are a citizen, whether you have legal presence, or whether you’re undocumented, we are going to respond to your call for your need for service,” said Barnard.
Barnard mentioned the county’s history, including the 2007 legislation passed by BOCS to screen the immigration status of anyone that was detained. Barnard stressed that the Prince William police are not involved in raids or other activities with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Another Conversation with the Chief will be scheduled in the coming months.
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