Purcellville Police Join Regional Incident Investigation Team

If a Purcellville resident or police officer is again killed or injured in a shootout or other incident, detectives from neighboring police agencies will rush in to uncover the facts.

The Town Council Tuesday night voted to approve a memorandum of understanding allowing the town’s Police Department to join the Northern Virginia Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Committee’s newly formed Critical Incident Response Team. That team will see detectives from 11 member agencies come together to investigate incidents involving the serious injury or death of a police officer and/or civilian, such as shootings, in-custody deaths and officer suicides.

Participating in the initiative are the police departments in Arlington, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Herndon, Leesburg, Manassas City, Manassas Park, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Prince William County, Purcellville and Vienna.

If Purcellville Police ever call on the team, detectives from every agency aside from Purcellville will conduct a criminal investigation alongside the Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Police Chief Cynthia McAlister Tuesday night said that criminal investigation would be entirely separate from the administrative internal investigation.

“It’s completely two separate paths,” she said.

McAlister emphasized that joining the team would benefit the town because it lacks “a lot of resources.”

“We depend on other jurisdictions, so that’s the big benefit to us,” she said. “We get the expertise and we get the equipment and the utensils that we need.”

Councilman Joel Grewe said joining the team was “a great add for the community.”

Joining the team will have no impact on the town’s budget other than if a Purcellville Police officer is called to another jurisdiction on off-duty time, at which point the town would need to pay that officer overtime.

The team could have proved useful in 2014, when former Purcellville police officer Timothy Hood responded to a suicide call and ended up shooting and killing 17-year-old Christian Alberto Sierra as the teen moved toward Hood with a paring knife.

No criminal charges were filed against Hood, but a five-day civil trial in fall 2019 resulted in a jury finding that his actions were unjustified. The jury ordered him to pay the Sierra family $3.81 million.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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