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Fairfax Ad Hoc Police Commission member worries reforms won't come

FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- A member of the committee set up to review police practices in Fairfax County following the county's apparent coverup after the fatal police shooting of John Geer is worried the reforms suggested by the committee will never come to fruition. 

Jeff Stewart witnessed the fatal shooting of his best friend at the hands of a police officer and spent seven months working with the committee to identify necessary reforms. Now, he's worried the most important changes will never be made.  

"Police are going to shoot people," Stewart said. He was there when Fairfax County Police Officer Adam Torres shot and killed John Geer, who was standing his own doorway with his hands up. 

"The real question is what are we going to do when it happens?  Hide it from the public?" Stewart said. 

Report: Fairfax Co. police must be more open 

The police department refused to release any information about the shooting, including the officer's name, until a judge and U.S. Senator became involved.  

"We know our county supervisors condoned and participated in a covered up for almost two years. That's unacceptable as an elected official," said Stewart. 

Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity acknowledged, "We didn't do it right.  We've got to get it right next time."  Herrity says things have already improved and some of the 200 recommendations from the Ad Hoc Commission have been implemented.  

Herrity said county leaders now understand that "transparency to the public is what really matters."

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But Stewart says nothing has happened in respect to the most important recommendations and he's worried the committee won't have the impact it was intended to. "I don't believe them. How do we rectify the fact that they cannot be trusted? Do this as It should be done."

County officials say it would cost $35 million to implement all of the 200 reforms, which include police body cameras. But Stewart says the most important measures that still need to be implemented are not expensive.  They include hiring an auditor and appointing a citizen review commission to ensure the timely and accurate release of information.  The commission voted unanimously on those recommendations.  

Adam Torres, the officer who shot Geer, was eventually fired and charged with murder.  He's behind bars awaiting his trial to be held in April. 

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