Citing the high cost of the sniper investigation and of prosecuting suspect John Lee Malvo, county officials have decided to seek reimbursement from the federal and state governments.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Katherine K. Hanley (D) told the board at Monday's meeting that she had asked her staff to draft a letter to federal and state agencies asking for money. The exact costs to the county have not yet been calculated.
"Expenses were incurred while the snipers were being sought, and there have been expenses since the arrests," said county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald. The supervisors "are asking on behalf of all the agencies, on behalf of the entire county, for reimbursement of funds."
The snipers terrorized the Washington area between Oct. 3 and Oct. 24, when they were arrested. Malvo, 17, and John Allen Muhammad, 41, are suspected in 21 shootings -- 14 of them fatal -- in five states and the District, including the October sniper attacks in the Washington region. Malvo is facing capital murder charges in Fairfax County while Muhammad faces the same charges in Prince William County.
One of the fatal shootings occurred Oct. 14 at the Home Depot in the Falls Church area. Many county public safety personnel worked overtime during the investigation.
Hanley said the letter would likely be mailed next week, as soon as officials determine the expenses of the investigation and the projected costs from the upcoming prosecution of Malvo. The prosecution includes such expenses as additional security and crowd control.
"The citizens of Fairfax need to be sure Fairfax is on the list when they address the issues of reimbursement," Hanley said. "It's particularly important for us now that we have the trial."
Fairfax is not the first jurisdiction to ask for financial relief in the wake of the sniper attacks.
Arlington County Police said Tuesday that they plan to seek reimbursement of $207,000 from the state to cover expenses incurred almost completely from overtime payments to officers. Although the Arlington police did not directly investigate the attacks, officials said they deployed officers as a precaution and in reaction to the shooting in Fairfax.
On Nov. 18, Prince William County Board Chairman Sean T. Connaughton (R) wrote to U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft asking for financial assistance to offset the future cost of prosecuting Muhammad. The trial, he wrote in the letter, is of "national concern."
"As you are aware, the costs incurred to prosecute these types of cases, including additional crowd control related to media coverage, victim support, jury and witness housing and investigative costs can be very substantial," Connaughton wrote.
Days after Connaughton's request, Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said he had asked the state's congressional delegation to try to recoup from the federal government all or part of the $3 million in state money spent during the investigation.