Virginia’s largest jurisdiction resolved Tuesday to approach decisions surrounding police, schools and even land-use through a prism of racial and social equity.
A resolution unanimously approved by Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors aims to address disparities in the county of 1.1 million residents by allocating more funds in some areas and considering the importance of diversity in hiring and other decisions.
“We want to make sure that when we’re making a decision we’re thinking in terms of: Does this acknowledge the importance of equity?” said board chair Sharon Bulova (D).
The policy, which county officials said they had been working toward for about a year, comes in the wake of a series of protests fueled by anger among African Americans over fatal police shootings.
Locally, four people were arrested and charged Monday for obstructing traffic outside the county jail during a protest over the 2015 stun gun incident that killed Natasha McKenna, a mentally ill woman who was struggling with county sheriff’s deputies inside the jail.
The county is in the process of adopting a series of police reforms stemming from that incident and the 2013 fatal police shooting of John Geer.
But Fairfax officials said they also hope to address frustrations that go beyond interactions with the police.
For example, the resolution could mean allocating more funds toward turf playing fields in low-income areas that do not have wealthy athletic associations footing the bill, Bulova said.
It could also mean ensuring that children in low-income families get access to preschool and other tools to help them succeed, said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill,) who was part of a task force that helped develop the resolution.
Though some residents may be against using county funds to help some areas over others, Hudgins argued that the policy will ultimately benefit all of Fairfax County.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re over here or over there; if you get to third grade and you’re still not reading, you’re going to be a problem for all of us as a community,” she said.