Edwin C. Roessler, Jr.
Inducted June 2022
Nominated by Richard Bennett and Brad Bartholomew, American University
Ed Roessler began his law enforcement career in 1988 with the New York City Department of Investigation and joined the Fairfax County Police Department in 1989, serving in all ranks throughout the department. These included Deputy Chief of Patrol, Commander of Internal Affairs Bureau, Director of the Criminal Justice Academy, Commander of the Administrative Support Bureau, and Commander of one of the county’s Patrol Divisions. He was appointed to Chief of Police in 2013 and led the department until his retirement in 2021. As Chief, one of his earliest initiatives was forming the Chief’s Council on Diversity Recruitment. This group engages community leaders to guide and advise the Chief and the Department’s leadership team on achieving recruitment goals and better representing the culturally diverse communities within the sworn, professional, and volunteer workforce while creating and nurturing a robust dialogue with all communities served. Chief Roessler has served on several national initiatives, including as the chairman of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s task force for converting from the Uniformed Crime Reporting system to the National Incident-Based Reporting System. He also served as the representative to the Bureau’s Criminal Justice Information System Advisory Panel Board for the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA). Chief Roessler holds an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and a graduate degree from George Washington University. In addition, he is a graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute and National Academy.
Evidence-Based Research and Practice:
Chief Roessler is recognized for his sustained partnership with researchers and local universities (American University and George Mason University). He has consistently worked to improve the openness of his organization to research. His longstanding relationship with George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy has led to two significant random sample community surveys, a large multi-method study on the impacts of technology on policing, studies of calls for service and police proactivity, and experiments on hot spots policing. Cynthia Lum, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, notes that “through Chief Roessler (and also previously, Chief Rohrer’s) leadership and support, several nationally-known and high-impact studies in policing have been developed in Fairfax County, leading to new knowledge for the field.” Lum praises Chief Roessler’s effort to maintain a years-long partnership. “Science can be challenging to police agencies, and results can be critical. Chief Roessler’s partnership speaks volumes about his commitment to the scientific process itself. Even when we had bad news, he still was open to additional research or finding ways to improve. Research is not a fad or a temporary engagement to Chief Roessler. He views it as clearly part of the everyday operations of policing.”
Chief Roessler also partnered with American University to implement a large randomized controlled trial of body-worn cameras. In their nomination, Professor Richard Bennett and Dr. Brad Bartholomew laud his commitment to evidence-based decision-making. They note: “Many chiefs nationally have adopted expensive body-worn camera programs without much knowledge of how the technology is likely to impact their work. In contrast, Chief Roessler decided to conduct a six-month pilot program in which some districts and some officers were randomly assigned cameras, and some were not. He asked American University researchers to recommend a robust evaluation design that included surveys of officers, residents, and community stakeholders before the pilot program began and afterward and to analyze routine officer behavior data for the same period.” Bennett and Bartholomew commend not only Chief Roessler’s commitment to the project but his dedication of resources to help implement the surveys, focus groups, and ride-along observations, and provide access to performance measurement data. "In short," they conclude, "we were treated as true partners in an ambitious evaluation project that informed body-worn camera policy in Fairfax County and nationally."
Other highlights of Chief Roessler’s evidence-based partnerships include conducting internal climate surveys, reviewing and enhancing agency crime analysis programs, creating a cyber and forensics bureau, participating in requests for student research projects, reforming use of force polices and responses to mental health calls for service, enhancing employee wellness programs to reduce suicides, increasing data and media transparency practices, and assisting with research on law enforcement responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, he proactively sought community and professional reviews and consultations of his agency, including his agency’s use of force policies. These consultations resulted in establishing an independent Police Auditor position, a Civilian Review Panel, and De-escalation and Crisis Intervention Team training. He has also created several innovative programs for the residents of Fairfax County.
Statement from Inductee:
The Co-production of Policing: Evidence-based Transparency, Accountability, and Public Trust
When my law enforcement career began in 1988, the community policing model was evolving across our nation. As a patrol officer, I embraced the innovations to the community policing model as a member of an exceptional law enforcement agency that was a leader in innovative policing compared to other major cities and counties. During my first few years as a patrol officer, I completed my graduate studies and was fortunate to have excellent mentors who were both academics and practitioners actively developing a novel model of evidence-based policing concepts. These new concepts formulated what we now know today as the co-production of policing.
Eventually, the co-production of policing concept became one of the pillars of the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Throughout my policing and academic careers, I worked with great visionaries across all levels of law enforcement, government organizations, community-based advocates, officers, non-sworn staff, volunteers, community leaders, and political leaders who, as stakeholders, provided constructive input to guide continual progressive change management in all administrative and operational endeavors. Our co-production of policing endeavors were rooted in the highest levels of academic standards as they were researched and validated by leading academic institutions.
While serving in the ranks of patrol officer, first line supervision, command staff officer, deputy chief of police for patrol, and during my eight years as a chief of police, I was blessed to partner with outstanding employees, academic institutions, community advocates, and professional organizations to implement evidence-based policing concepts that were progressive and adaptable to changes desired by our community. Together we used evidence-based research to create effective change to our use of force policies and training modes, response and after-care of mental health calls for service, applied innovations and trust-building for our employee wellness programs, developed higher levels of media and data transparency practices, implemented over 200 reforms to our business practices through an Ad Hoc Police Practices and Review Commission, assisted in the creation of public accountability organizations such as a civilian review panel and independent police auditor, developed strategic plans to effectively deploy body-worn cameras and evolving technologies in the field, and created a state-of-the-art cyber and forensics bureau.
There are many other employee and stakeholder-driven, evidenced-based innovations I had the pleasure of supporting from concept to application, for which I am grateful to all contributors. It was a blessing to use evidence-based policing solutions and the co-production of policing model to value the sanctity of life in accomplishing our mission of preventing and fighting crime while building upon an already great level of public trust in the community I served.
I will continue to mentor future leaders in evidence-based policing applications in my academic career as we collectively continue to enhance transparency, accountability, and public trust in the policing profession.
Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:
- Lum, C., & Koper, C.S., (ongoing). Preventing, preparing, and responding to COVID-19: An in-depth case study on the impacts of COVID-19 on the Fairfax County Police Department.
- Roessler, E.C., & Rodway, K. (2022). Focusing on officer wellness: Investigating police suicide. The Police Chief.
- Lum, C., Koper, C., Johnson, W. (Forthcoming). The 2021 Fairfax County Community Survey. Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.
- Bennett, R. R., Bartholomew, B., & Champagne, H. (2019). Fairfax County Police Department's body‐worn camera pilot project: An evaluation. Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Law and Criminology, American University.
- Lum, C., & Stoltz, M. (2018). The Fairfax County Police Department Officer Survey. Fairfax, VA: Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.
- Lum, C., Johnson, D., Nichols, J., Grieco, J., & Wu, X. (2016). The 2015 Fairfax County Community Survey. Report to the Fairfax County Police Department and Community. Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.
- Koper, C.S., Lum, C., Willis, J.J., Woods, D., & Hibdon, J. (2015). Realizing the Potential of Technology in Policing: A Multisite Study of the Social, Organizational, & Behavioral Aspects of Implementing Police Technologies. Final report to the National Institute of Justice. Fairfax, VA: Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.