New Fairfax County Police unit fill focus on ‘Red Flag’ cases

Second Amendment

The Threat Assessment and Management (TAM) Unit is a response to a growing number of violent threats in Fairfax County.

FAIRFAX, Va. — The Fairfax County Police Department is launching a new unit that will solely focus on active shooters, bomb threats, and ‘Red Flag’ cases amid a rise in threats after the pandemic. 

Chief of Police for Fairfax County, Kevin Davis, announced the Threat Assessment and Management (TAM) Unit which will only focus on identifying and preventing threats in the county.

Lieutenant Aaron Spooner says the police department is identifying potentially dangerous incidents in the county through community members who are reporting social media posts, residents who are hearing or seeing something alarming, and intelligence analysts who are scouring the open internet. 

Police data shows that as of Sept. 11, there were 153 active shooter threats in Fairfax County compared to just 73 during the same time last year. Bomb threats have remained steady, but ‘Red Flag’ cases jumped from 47 at this time last year to 77 so far this year.

The commonwealth’s Red Flag Law was passed in 2020 and allows law enforcement to temporarily take weapons away from someone who may pose a danger to themselves or others. Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis says these are reserved for individuals in crisis. 

“They are either in mental health or behavioral crisis or they are involved in some kind of domestic violence scenarios,” Davis said. “We confiscate their firearms for up to 180 days.”  

Davis says the school communities, including high schools and colleges in Fairfax County, represent a growing number of threats and ‘Red Flag’ cases. 

“Grievance, anger, and immediate accessibility to firearms are a recipe for disaster,” he added. 

Police expect red flag orders to increase with the creation of the TAM Unit which will investigate if the threat is credible and warrants the court-ordered action, or if it’s simply a person expressing a grievance online.

The unit has gotten the sign of approval from Fairfax County’s Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano who told WUSA9 in a statement: 

“Red Flag Laws are one of the best tools we have as law enforcement to prevent potentially devastating gun violence. By dedicating a specialized team to handling these cases and working closely with police, Fairfax has become the leader in Virginia on Red Flag Orders. We hope to continue to set a model for agencies across the Commonwealth in partnership with FCPD.”

However, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) says the orders enable political abuse. 

“So-called ‘Red Flag’ orders, or Emergency Risk Protection Orders, are designed to empower the government to confiscate Americans’ firearms without due process of law.”

When asked about the pushback from firearm activists nationwide, Chief Davis said he welcomed differences of opinion but believes his unit does not infringe on Second Amendment rights. 

“I don’t think we are in a place in society, saying the rosary or Hail Mary or two, hoping that something bad won’t happen when we have signs that something tragic, deadly, violent, may in fact happen,” Davis said. 

Chief Davis says that in the coming days, he plans to meet with Northern Virginia law enforcement agencies to get them on board with this model, and eventually he would like to see a region-wide effort because people who pose a threat do not respect jurisdictional boundaries. 

WATCH NEXT: How ‘red flag’ laws work in the DMV

The laws are meant to prevent firearm misuse.

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