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Fairfax County Chapter Press Release - 02-12-2024

News Release:



CONTACT: Steve Monahan
VAPBA Failfax County Chapter President
02/12/2024 – The Fairfax County Chapter of the SSPBA was elected as the exclusive bargaining agent for Fairfax Police Department (FCPD) in 2023 and recently negotiated a historic collective bargaining agreement with Fairfax County. The FCPD bargaining unit includes FCPD’s highly regarded Animal Protection Police Officers (APPO).


On January 30, 2024, the FCPD and the Fairfax County Department of Animal Sheltering (DAS) announced a proposal to consolidate animal services in the County under DAS, which is a non-law enforcement agency. This proposal includes eliminating the APPO positions under FCPD to create Animal Control Officer (ACO) positions under DAS. The SSPBA opposes this consolidation proposal for several reasons.


First, we have always advocated for all officers in FCPD, including APPOs. The current APPOs were previously called ACOs; however, they were dually sworn in a manner that permitted them to be considered law enforcement officers and they were required to meet the training requirements as such. The SSPBA lobbied for the APP legislation in 2016 and was instrumental in its implementation in Fairfax County. This rectified any legal concerns surrounding their sworn status and their functions as fully sworn law enforcement officers.  There has been a profound impact on the morale of the APPOs, who feel their voices have been ignored by Fairfax County management. It is evident there are misconceptions by those involved in this proposal as it relates to how APPOs operate and perform their duties. Furthermore, this proposal also consolidates the wildlife biologist and her staff, who perform important law enforcement support functions to the APPOs.


The FCPD APPOs are well regarded by the community and other agencies, such as the Attorney General’s office Animal Law Unit and the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). They have established relationships in the community, with veterinarians, and with companion animal and wildlife rescue partners. APPOs perform their duties in the best interest of the community, public safety, and animal welfare. They chose a specific career path offered by Fairfax County, which is a specialized hybrid of an ACO and a police officer.  APPOs are acknowledged as subject matter experts in their field and have the most significant direct experience of how animal field services currently operate in Fairfax County, yet neither they nor the SSPBA were granted the ability to provide input on this proposal before county management made their determinations on this significant matter. There has been no quantifiable data provided to support this proposal. The APPOs currently perform many of the functions and community engagement methods the county is seeking in this proposal.


Second, the SSPBA advocates regularly for ACOs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. ACOs in the Commonwealth of Virginia are not defined as fully sworn law enforcement officers and therefore, are typically not provided the same benefits. Fairfax County APPOs regularly collaborate with ACOs in other jurisdictions through task forces or other joint investigations. ACOs in Virginia are regularly fighting for the pay, benefits, training, and protections they deserve for their position, as they are tasked with enforcement of companion animal laws and encounter dangerous situations in the field regularly. This proposal exploits the fact that an ACO is not required to be provided with these benefits by statute as a cost-savings measure. The current proposal even seeks to place the new ACO positions in a general retirement system even though there is a bill in the General Assembly advocating for ACOs to receive enhanced benefits under VRS.


Third, this proposal is in conflict with the spirit of the Collective Bargaining Ordinance that Fairfax County recently implemented to give employees a voice. It seeks to remove positions from one bargaining unit to another unit that does not currently have elected representation. While this decision’s impact on the individual officers can be negotiated, that does not negate the implications that the County can and will eliminate and create new positions to avoid allowing employees to bargain collectively.


Lastly, the proposal speaks of service provision to the Fairfax County community. These services can be provided to the community without replacing the APPOs through a reorganization. The implication that a fully sworn law enforcement officer is detrimental to providing services is a concept that we fully disagree with. Law enforcement officers are called upon to protect and serve the community and the FCPD APPOs are a gold standard example of that sentiment.



The Virginia Police Benevolent Association is a division of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc., a not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to improving the law enforcement profession.  PBA members are full-time or retired employees of the various federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement and correctional agencies in Virginia.  This professional association, funded by membership dues, provides legal, legislative, disciplinary and other representation to member officers as well as an accidental death benefit to members’ beneficiaries.  The PBA prohibits members from engaging in or condoning any strike by law enforcement officers, electing instead to represent members through aggressive political action. For more information, please visit our website at


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