WJLA and NewsChannel 8 for Sale — Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) has been offered for sale by Allbritton Communications. The company is seeking to sell WJLA and its companion cable channel NewsChannel 8 in order to continue investing in new media, like its Politico website and newspaper. Disney, owner of the ABC television network, is thought to be a likely buyer. [WBJ, Washington Post, Politico]
Brink, Lopez Announce Reelection Bids — Dels. Bob Brink and Alfonso Lopez announced their bids for reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. As part of his speech, Lopez made fun of a Republican effort in the state legislature to study the creation of a Virginia-based currency. Lopez joked that he wanted his face on the Virginia $5 bill and Brink’s on the $10 bill, so that “in Virginia it would cost a Brink and a Lopez to buy a pizza.” [Blue Virginia]
‘Over the Edge’ Fundraiser in Crystal City — Today, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., people will be rappelling 15 stories down the Hilton Crystal City at 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway as part of a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Among those scheduled to go “over the edge” today is Washington Nationals mascot Screech. The fundraiser will also run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). [Event Calendar, Special Olympics Virginia]
County Sells $206 Million in Bonds — Arlington County sold $206 million in bonds on Tuesday. The bonds were sold at a low 2.5 percent interest rate. The refunding of older bonds under the low rate will save the county about $5 million. [Arlington County]
Police Looking for Wallet Thief — Arlington police are looking for a man who allegedly stole a victim’s wallet in the Clarendon area last month. [ACPD]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Police are looking for a man who exposed himself to a woman at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) last weekend.
The incident took place on Saturday afternoon, on the second floor of the library. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
EXPOSURE, 04/27/13, 1000 block of N. Quincy Street. At 2:30 pm on April 27, a suspect exposed himself to female victim in a second floor aisle at the Central library. The suspect fled the scene when the victim alerted front desk staff. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 40-55 years old, 6” tall and 210 lbs. He was wearing a blue hat, blue long sleeve shirt and blue sweatpants at the time of the incident.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
The victim was walking the dog on the 2400 block of 11th Street N., in Courthouse, when her ex-boyfriend approached her and began an argument, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The man then allegedly choked the victim and ran off with her Chihuahua. He was arrested when he tried to give the dog back.
“He came back to the scene to return the dog and was greeted by Arlington County police,” Sternbeck said.
Jonathan Jimenez, 24, was arrested and charged with strangulation, attempted malicious wounding, grand larceny, and domestic assault and battery. He was held without bond.
File photo via Paul Komarek/Wikipedia
Update at 12:50 a.m. — Police have given the “all clear” and roads are being reopened. The package was disrupted “without incident” and no hazards were found, according to Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Fitch.
Earlier: Arlington County police and the county’s bomb squad are investigating a suspicious package in the area of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Pentagon City.
Police are shutting down roads within a one block radius of the package, including S. Hayes Street and S. Fern Street between Army Navy Drive and 15th Street S. They have also closed off access to one of the Pentagon City Metro entrances.
According to scanner traffic, a witness told police that the package was dropped off on 12th Street S. by individuals in a white box truck, which then left the scene.
At around 12:35 a.m., the bomb squad conducted a controlled blast to “disrupt” the package. A loud boom could be heard in surrounding neighborhoods. (See video, below)
This was the second suspicious package in the area in the past week.
One county employee was fired and three others were disciplined after financial irregularities were discovered at Arlington’s Senior Adult Travel Program, but no criminal charges were brought after a months-long investigation that one source says was “botched.”
The investigation started in fall 2011, after four improperly-opened bank accounts were discovered, but only came to light this month after one of disciplined employees appealed her punishment at a public Civil Service Commission hearing, which was attended by ARLnow.com.
The four accounts were opened, unbeknownst to county officials, at an Arlington PNC Bank branch in 2010. They were opened by an Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) employee who coordinated the Senior Adult Travel program, we’re told by a source with knowledge of the investigation.
The county-run senior travel program organizes dozens of trips per year for Arlington residents over the age of 55. The activities range from day trips to cultural performance, casinos and historic sites — on a new county-owned bus — to overnight trips to Europe and elsewhere. The program has two employees, an annual budget of $134,046 and recorded 2,738 trip reservations in Fiscal Year 2012, according to DPR Director Jane Rudolph.
The four accounts were used to deposit fees paid by travelers and to pay for senior travel program expenses, but were outside of the county’s direct control. By personally opening and controlling the account, the employee (who has not been officially identified) was able to conduct transactions — like paying for meals and other expenses on the trips — without the restrictions and hassle of the county’s internal financial controls.
“It was well-meaning employees who thought they were enhancing the experience of seniors,” Arlington County Director of Human Resources Marcy Foster told ARLnow.com. “They were delivering quick and efficient services, and they thought that was the way to do it.”
But operating the accounts, and cashing checks written out to Arlington County in accounts not controlled by the county, was a serious violation of county policy. After one of the accounts was discovered by an audit in late 2010, DPR management and budget analyst Celia Wong-Walsh was directed by then-DPR Director Dinesh Tiwari to close it.
For nearly a year, however, the account remained open. Wong-Walsh, the employee who appealed her punishment this month, told the Civil Service Commission that she could not force the bank to close the rogue account. She says the bank told her that the account could only be closed by the employee that opened it.
Wong-Walsh, who has since retired, had some of her unpaid leave stripped for failing to proactively work with the employee to close the account. She appealed the punishment, saying she did not have the legal authority to close the account and didn’t even know that more than one rogue account had been opened.
(The commission upheld the county’s disciplinary action but reduced the amount of leave that was taken away.)
The accounts were finally closed in September 2011, after the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office discovered them independently. The discovery was made when a $200 check written from one of the accounts bounced in August 2011, and the woman who it was written to contacted the treasurer.
A police investigation followed, but no criminal wrongdoing was found.
“We didn’t find any money missing,” said Foster. “There was no criminal activity.”
That point was disputed by a source with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity. The source said up to $17,000 might have been missing from the accounts, but any solid evidence of that was lost because it took too long to investigate.
“The case was so screwed up that they couldn’t prosecute,” the source said.
An officer responded to the 3500 block of N. Nottingham Street around 9:40 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, for a report of a loud party, according to police. Upon arriving, the officer approached the house and observed a large number of young people.
“Numerous” party-goers then began fleeing from the home by jumping over fences into nearby yards, while others started throwing beer cans and bottles at the officer, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Backup units arrived on scene and the remaining partyers were rounded up. In all, 43 people between the ages of 15 and 18 were charged with underage consumption of alcohol.
“Many of them were rude and uncooperative,” Sternbeck said. Another 16 juveniles were released into the custody of their parents without charges after a voluntary breath test revealed no traces of alcohol, Sternbeck said.
“Let’s just say there were a lot of unhappy parents responding to the 3500 block of N. Nottingham Street that night,” said Sternbeck.
No charges have been filed against the homeowner, who was not present at the time of the party but was later reached by police via phone. Police were unable to locate the suspects who threw the cans and bottles at the officer, Sternbeck said.
The Arlington County Police Department has released two short videos with tips for staying safe while using jogging trails and enjoying warm weather.
“Arlington has safe and beautiful trails for biking, running, and walking,” a narrator says on the jogging trail video. “As the days get longer, people of all ages spend more time outside — and this includes criminals, too.”
Tips listed on the video include:
- Try to use populated areas in the daylight hours.
- Wear light, reflective clothing.
- Try to go out with a friend.
- Make sure you bring a cell phone.
- Familiarize yourself with your trails and avoid areas you don’t know.
- If you listen to music, make sure you leave one ear open.
- Tell someone where you will be going before you leave.
- Call 911 for emergencies or, for non-emergencies, call 703-558-2222.
Officer Long Dinh was critically injured in a February chase that ended with the suspect crashing head-on into his police cruiser at a high speed. The suspect died and Dinh was just released today from his nearly two month hospital stay.
Dinh has undergone multiple surgeries to repair his two broken legs, and continues physical therapy for the injuries. He is also dealing with short term memory issues stemming from the head trauma he sustained during the incident.
To help offset the costs of Dinh’s treatment and ongoing hospital stay, members of the Fairfax County Police Department are challenging members of the Metropolitan Police Department to a fundraiser hockey game. It will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 28, at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston (627 N. Glebe Road). The public is welcome to attend and donations will be collected at the event.
Anyone who cannot attend Sunday’s event but wishes to contribute to Officer Dinh’s rehabilitation fund can do so online.
The incident took place in broad daylight, at 12:35 p.m. yesterday (April 23), on the same block as Arlington County Police headquarters and the Arlington County jail.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ATTEMPTED ROBBERY, 04/23/13, 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. At 12:35 pm on April 23, a subject asked a victim for money. The victim stated that he did not have any money and walked away. The suspect then chased the victim and struck him several times in the face. Diavonte Dejean Barlow, 19, of Alexandria, VA was arrested and charged with attempted robbery and assault and battery.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
Cpl. Albert Kim has been with ACPD for about 13 years. He’s part of the department’s Tactical Training Unit, which holds the dual purpose of serving as a member of the SWAT team and providing training to other officers.
Kim doesn’t consider himself a marathon runner, he considers himself a triathlete. He was recently selected to compete in the International Triathlon Union championships in London this fall. Occasionally, he participates in marathons because they’re a “lower stress” form of training for him. After having been a spectator at the Boston Marathon last year, this year he decided to run it.
Kim had finished the race before the bombings and was already back in Cambridge, where he was staying, and just about to sit down for dinner at a restaurant. The person he was supposed to dine with is a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where nearly three dozen of the bombing victims were taken for treatment, and immediately was called back to the hospital. Kim said his instinct as a first responder was to do as his dinner partner had done, and head back into the city to assist. But he fought the urge and instead heeded the pleas of local law enforcement officials who asked residents and visitors alike to stay off the streets.
“Being a law enforcement officer, you want to help as much as you can. But at the same time, me not knowing the area, not being familiar with what needs to be done, I would be more of a hindrance,” said Kim. “The best thing I could do was stay out of everyone’s way, not go out, not see what’s going on at the scene, but follow directions. Everyone was being told to stay in place, to not leave their hotel rooms or congregate in groups.”
Like the others in the restaurant, Kim says he stared in disbelief at the scene playing out in front of him on the television.
“Everyone was glued to the television and the first thing I saw on the big screen was a replay of the explosion at the finish line. I was just watching the news and reading the updates. No one’s talking inside the place, everyone’s kind of staring at the television,” said Kim. “I was saddened by what I saw. It was a little bit of confusion too because I think initially everyone was speculating as to what had taken place. My first reaction is, who does something like that? What possess someone to do something like that on such a wonderful day with everyone watching? It’s very disheartening.”
A suspicious substance in a package caused a scare at a government facility in the 700 block of S. Courthouse Road.
A hazmat team from the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the call of a package in the mail room at the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Arlington that reportedly contained a light colored powdery or crystal-type substance. The Arlington County Police Department was also at the scene to offer support.
There was a brief, partial evacuation of the facility while investigators examined the substance. According to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl, the substance has since been found to be non-hazardous and crews have cleared the scene.
According to Karl, although the substance is not hazardous, the case will be taken over by Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) for further investigation.
Arlington police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and 911 operators were honored today (Wednesday) at the 31st annual Valor Awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony, organized by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Ft. Myer Officers’ Club at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Arlington County public safety personnel who have demonstrated extraordinary heroism or exceptional performance were presented with awards, certificates and medals.
Among those awarded were:
- Donald “DJ Winsock, a 911 operator whose CPR instructions saved the life of a woman who suffered a medical emergency in Rosslyn on August 21, 2012.
- Sgt. Jack Lantz, a nearly 30-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, for meritorious service over the course of his career.
- Sgt. David Bowers, and deputy sheriffs Efthimios Alpos, Monica-Lyons-Carr and Arthur Pitts, who saved the life of an intoxicated woman who tried to commit suicide in a holding cell, after being arrested at Reagan National Airport on Nov. 10, 2012.
- Sgt. Richard Laureano, of the Sheriff’s Office. Laureano used an automated external defibrillator to revive a boy who collapsed during a wrestling match in Woodbridge, while off-duty on Feb. 2, 2013.
- Capt. Kevin Reardon, for 26 years of meritorious service to the Arlington County Police Department.
- Cpl. Richard St. Clair and Officer Patrick Maxwell, for valor while attempting to help Alexandria paramedic Joshua Weissman, who fell 30-feet off a bridge and later died while responding to a car fire on I-395.
- Cpl. David Munn, Officer Daniel Gardner, and Officer Hilary Maloney, for physically restraining a suicidal military veteran from jumping off the 18th floor of a Pentagon City apartment building on June 16, 2012.
- Capt. Trevor Burrell for meritorious service to the Arlington County Fire Department, specifically in the area of firefighter training.
- Firefighter Joshua Wise for helping to stop a car that was driving erratically on I-395, while off duty. After the car stopped, Wise rendered aid to the driver, who was suffering a diabetic emergency.
The full explanation of each award and act can be found below, after the jump.
“Often, this is the only public recognition these officers receive,” said Chamber of Commerce President Rich Doud said in a statement. “It is unique to hear the stories of their heroic acts and to meet the officers involved. We are fortunate that they work in Arlington and perform so selflessly in the service of our businesses and citizens.”
ABC7 meteorologist Brian Van De Graff served as emcee to the lunchtime event. In addition to police and fire department personnel, attendees included Arlington County Board members, state legislators, elected constitutional officials, school officials and local business leaders.
A thief or thieves stole laptop computers in three separate burglaries this week, according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.
BURGLARY, 04/11/13, 4600 block of S. 34th Street. Between 7:30 pm and 8 pm on April 11, a victim went on a walk in his neighborhood. When he returned home, it was discovered that a laptop had been stolen from the kitchen. There were no signs of forced entry and there is no suspect(s) description.
BURGLARY, 04/13/13, 700 block of S. Ode Street. Between 3 and 8:30 pm on April 13, an unknown subject(s) entered a residence and stole a 13” Macbook Pro. There is no suspect(s) description.
BURGLARY, 04/16/13, 3000 block of N. Harrison Street. Between 7:45 am and 6:15 pm on April 16, an unknown suspect(s) entered a residence and stole a Dell laptop and US passport. There is no suspect(s) description.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
Advisory Lifted for Local Waterways — A warning from Arlington County to stay out of Arlington Branch, Lower Long Branch and Four Mile Run has been lifted. The advisory was issued on April 9 after a sewage release near Columbia Pike. “The precaution was issued to allow time for the effect of the release to be diminished by natural flushing of the streams,” the county said. [Arlington County]
Husband of Track Coach Caught Boston Chaos on Camera — John Walls, the husband of Bishop O’Connell cross country and track coach Cindy Walls, captured the chaos of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings on video. Walls was waiting for Cindy and his daughter Katie to cross the finish line when one of the bombs exploded across the street from where he was seated. He was shaken but uninjured. [WJLA]
Burned-Down House Cited for Code Violations — The Hall’s Hill house that was destroyed by fire yesterday has been cited several times in the past for building code violations. Officials are now investigating whether property owner Paul Chretien was in violation of the code by allowing more than four unrelated people to live in the house. [Washington Post]
Police Seek Theft Suspect — The Arlington County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a 21-year-old man who stole an iPhone. “Police believe that the suspect has also been involved in several other crimes,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Metro Transit Police have stepped up patrols in response to this afternoon’s deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon.
“Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik has ordered all day-shift patrol officers to remain on duty through this evening’s rush hour to increase the security posture of the transit system,” Metro said in a press release. “Metro is taking this step in an abundance of caution. There is no specific or credible threat against the Metro system at this time.”
“Customers are urged to report suspicious activity or unattended packages by calling Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121,” Metro said. “Metro Transit Police continue to monitor events in Boston and will take appropriate measures to heighten security.”
Outside the Pentagon City Metro this afternoon, two Metro Transit Police officers watched riders enter and exit the station. One had military-style rifle and the other had a police dog.
So far, Arlington County Police do not have specific plans to step up staffing levels or patrols, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Arlington’s bomb squad also has not made any staffing changes, according to fire department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
Local residents who have friends and loved ones at the Boston Marathon, meanwhile, have been using the Facebook pages of local running stores like Pacers and Potomac River Running to keep track of their whereabouts and well-being.