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Tense Moments as SWAT Team Deploys in North Arlington Neighborhood

by ARLnow.com June 25, 2010 at 7:22 am 4,699 28 Comments

About 25 police officers and SWAT team members invaded a quiet North Arlington neighborhood Thursday night for what was thought to be a barricade situation.

It started when a man who recently split with his girlfriend posted something to Facebook that made her think he might be suicidal, police said.

The man has a law enforcement background and owns numerous guns. When police were unable to reach the man on the phone, they began preparing for a possible standoff at his home, near Marymount University and Washington Golf and Country Club.

As residents returning from work drove by slowly to see what was going on, sharpshooters and SWAT team members in camouflage tactical gear began to gather at North 25th Road and Vermont Street to go over a plan for making entry into the house. An unmarked mobile command center was also brought in for the operation.

With the road closed and all personnel in place, police finally moved in toward the house. Once inside, they discovered the man was not there.

  • Mike

    Arlington Cops probably got juiced for this. They barely see any action so they have to be bored. I saw THREEE cruisers and 6 officers at a 7-11 talking to a homeless guy. In DC you would have fewer people securing a murder scene.

    The police in NoVa, while well trained and professionial live a pampered existance compared to those across the river. (God bless the Potomac)

    • Well they did finally get bored enough to start cleaning up whatever crack exchange has been going on in front of the Courthouse Metro. Took ’em long enough; let’s see if it lasts. They even plastered up that attractive nuisance of a cubby hole in the wall next to the escalator…

  • NoVAN8TV
  • George

    This is absurd. All the tax payers money wasted, and wide open areas of the county un-patrolled over a hunch? They used this as a practice run for something real. In my life long time of living in Arlington I have to quote Jay-Z when it comes to Arlington Police: “You know the type loud as a motor bike/ But wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight”

    • Sampson

      Great comment George, Let me guess your the type of guy who talks tough about the police behind your keyboard, but when the neighbors music is too loud, or your neighbors cars too close to your driveway you wine like a bitch and need officers to solve your problems. Wake Up George. By the way how long did it take you to google a Jay- Z Quote. Now go strap on your flip flops kid and get back to the Star Bucks and dream about how you can better your community instead of wasting your life tearing down things you know nothing about, and could never dream of doing. JAY – Z Really George.

      • BoboMcFadden

        and every time the cops screw up, an obligatory badge licker needs to show up to explain to us “civilians” how we don’t know anything and should just leave the authoritahs to their own devices, never demanding any accountability because we’re just too stupid to understand.

        • BoboMcFadden

          Just another “prey” with delusions of being a “predator”.

      • Scott

        Great comment, Sam. Let me guess: you’re the type of badge-licking toady who’s all too eager to sport his FOP sticker and lament that “kids these days have no respect for authority!” Better yet, you’re a cop who was attracted to a job which allows you virtually unfettered freedom to harass, molest, steal from or otherwise just be a prick to any random “civilian” with the gall to give you lip or deny you the respect you so rightfully deserve.

        Now go strap on your Glock and your shiny piece of tin and go round up some folks who could use a tune-up in order to generate some revenue for your municipality.

        • Sampson

          Wow so angry Scott, So let me get this straight, I should stop arresting guys that enjoy beating their wives and having sex with three year old children. Wise up and get a clue. There are more problems out there than an asshole like you that can’t go a week without getting a ticket. And see Scott I don’t need or look for respect because I have learned that people like you don’t respect anything or anybody. See I know Scott that you have no respect for yourself. So shut up and next time you see someone like a soilder, police firefighter, teacher, just say thanks my friend. These are the people that make the world go round, not you kid.

          • Brad

            No, you should arrest people who commit crimes. But not every complaint should be taken at face value, and I think you know that. It’s often a hard call, sure, and who knows, maybe it was a hard call in this case. However, if you’re being honest with yourself, you know that sometimes the level of the response arises from motives other than ensuring community safety. Police, after all, are human just like the rest of us, with their own passions and prejudices. One of the dangers of being an officer is allowing personal feelings to interfere with professional integrity. I would hope you and your colleagues take this very seriously, and are on guard for it.

            In practice, this means that sometimes the police need to step back from a situation before saddling up with the BDU’s and assault rifles — especially when the situation stems from a lone Facebook post. When you don’t stop to gather some perspective, you end up looking overzealous and overeager, as if you miss your days in the Corps or something (I don’t mean that in a derogatory way… I have deep respect for members of our armed services). That is the perception of the community, as you can see here, and that perception is somethign that if you were smart, you’d do well to avoid. After all, public trust and respect is critical to effective law enforcement; without the community engaged, it becomes much harder for you to do your job. Beyond the problem of perception, however, an overeager and overzealous response also wastes time and resources, and in a case like this, risks creating anxiety within the “quiet North Arlington community” where the incident occurred.

            I don’t agree with commenters who oversimplified the issue and look at this as “yet another reason” to pile on the police. Justice is rarely black and white, and law enforcement comprises a big part of the justice system. You can’t judge the propriety of a police response without knowing all of the facts. But at the same time, it makes me uncomfortable to read a post by you, an officer (apparently), which is so blindly supportive of guys who may have overreacted. People are understandably wary of officers who see themselves as capable of no wrong — who rush to the defense of officers as quickly as haters rush to condemn them.

          • Scott

            Well, Sam. Seems logic isn’t your strong suit. Conflating a potentially suicidal man with a wife beater or child rapist is, in the real world at least, indicative of some form of mental illness. But in law enforcement that seems to be the order of the day, innit, Sam? “Cops vs. Civilians”, “Us vs. Them”, ad nauseum. Thank God we have you, Sam, standing on that thin blue line that stands guard against chaos and anarchy.

            Seriously, Sam, a man who’s been identified by his ex-girlfriend as being possibly, maybe, perhaps suicidal is *exacly* why we have SWAT teams, right? And SWAT never goes into a combustible situation with a lit match do they, Sam? They’re as tender and sympathetic as a nun right, Sam? I mean, after they kill the dog as a matter of routine and scare the crap out of the wife and kids of course. You know, SOP.

            And please spare me the “soldier, teacher, cop” sanctimony. I’m a veteran of nearly 10 years service and met far more than my fair share of P.X. Rangers, SWAT wannabes and badge bullies. But I also learned to take care of myself because, Sam, when seconds count you’re just minutes away.

    • Mike Hunt

      Dear George, you are probably one of those people buying crack in front of the Courthouse Metro. The fact that you quoted Jay-Z just shows how asinine you are. Stop whining and go back to your job at 7/11.

      Sincerely, Mike Hunt

      • Mike

        Hi Mike Hunt!

  • BoboMcFadden

    So Sampson, are you arguing this was an efficient use of taxpayer money?

  • Sampson

    BoBo, sorry do you know how much that cost. Pull up the figures then let me know. If they had saved someones life or protected your family from a nut I would say it was money well spent.

  • Katie

    So, if he wasn’t home, where WAS the guy when he posted something “suicidal” on Facebook? Starbucks? Northside Social? New girlfriend’s house?

  • charlie

    the next day quarter backing is going real well here.
    if this situation had turned out worse and the guy had killed himself, then everyone would be complaining that the ArlPo never do anything, always eating donuts, etc.
    Our police are fantastic, professional and very effective. Respect that, please.

    • Skeptical

      Charlie, you took the words out of my mouth (or at least out of my head since I saw this comment thread and thought them several days back). I’m just amazed by the number of people who think they know enough about a given situation to have an opinion.

  • Jim Breiling

    The police had a threat that warranted concern. The person of concern was known to have guns, so could readily take life. They responded to save life. Hurrah for the police in protecting and serving.

    The eventual discovery that the person of concern was not at his home resolved the possibility of a threat of life then and there, but not the threat. Where was the person of concern then? What is the resolution of this threat to life?

  • Dan

    Gentlemen, I appreciate your passionate debate…however you are arguing over this incident when you have about 20% of the total information. This SWAT Team was not “called out” in an over reaction, it rarely is called out for these types of incidents because the patrolman are very competent and are able to resolve these things on a routine basis. This incident reached a level that potentially could have gone bad, quickly. The police begin with little or no information and have to make decisions in an attempt to make the community safe, in this case, calling out the team. When it was discovered that the danger did not exist, all were sent home. There were precautions taken and legal considerations that had to be considered. It is frustrating when you see people do their best, day in and day out…sometimes facing danger, and the first thing someone wants to do is question your integrity. If you’re wondering why police sometimes think it’s “us vs them” it’s threads like this that further that thinking.

  • Darwin

    It’s a tough line to walk. I find the trend in the US over the last few years to equip EVERY police force as a paramilitary unit a bit over kill. I find it especially funny to hear politicians whine that “assault rifles belong on foreign battle fields not on our streets” and then go on to buy them for every cop who patrols our neighborhoods. However, that is a larger “government control over its people” policy issue.

    That being said our Arlington cops are some of the best, most professional law enforcement officers I have ever met! I think they are doing a great job!

  • Ted

    This story is bizarre. These threads are even more bizarre.

  • Vicente Fox

    Why the hell does Arlington County even have a para-military outfit like this?

  • BCrawford

    I remember an incident a few years ago when two thugs in California were armed to the teeth with body armour, assault rifles and whatever else they could strap on had a firefight with some local law enforcement after a botched bank robbery. The cops were out gunned by the two men and after what seemed like an eternity the two thugs were taken out.

    That’s why we have para-military outfits like SWAT and ESU’s.

  • Joe M

    I don’t quite understand how anyone justifies deploying a Mobile Command unit and SWAT team to a local residence when there is no evidence of a crime or potential crime being committed or even evidence, proof, or knowledge that anyone is even there?

    How much did this deployment cost? and what was the threat again? That someone with a Law Enforcement background was off his meds?

    And where’s the probable cause for entering a private residence? A phone call from a girlfriend, saying he might hurt himself? Is that probable cause?

    Paramilitary Style Police tactics are the emblem of a Police State. Unquestioned deference to the police and local Authorities are features of Fascism. I, for one, would like someone with official responsibility to explain the rationale and necessity of Arlington County having a SWAT team. How many times has it been deployed and for what kind of situations, because I can’t believe that anyone rational would consider the deployment of SWAT and mobile command and closing off roads, and this and that, for a potential suicide, based on information of an ex-girlfriend, with no verbal or written threats against the public or anyone else, an effective use of police force and taxpayer money.

  • Neighbor

    I can tell you as a resident living next to this situation that you are all overly verbose without any confirmed facts. The SWAT is still there (it’s midnight and raining), and they are unable to get him out. He may have weapons and be intoxicated. There is nothing I appreciate more than my tax dollars protecting him and they neighborhood right now.

    Thank you to Arlington County for the quick response and measured response so far.

    This is NOT OVER yet and I hope nobody dies. May the man inside take a deep breath and find his peace. I hope he makes a good decision and am sending positive thoughts, regardless of the other crap surrounding the situation.

    Why is it that nearly all of the comments on each article turns into a complete bitch session with endless finger pointing and side division…. especially since many of the articles posted are with as much info is available at the time.. but not nearly enough to have a full picture.

    • Actual witness

      Wow, I wish I saw this thread three years ago.. I just found it because I heard APD SWAT was out in force again last night. The APD was completely ridiculous in this situation. Midnight and raining? I lived next door at the time and witnessed the entire thing. As soon as his sister insisted on going in the house to get the man’s dog because she was worried it might be accidentally shot in all the insanity. The APD instead of being grateful was furious she had provided confirmation that as she had told them repeatedly, he wasn’t even home before they had a chance to break down his door. It was still daylight and the ridiculous SWAT presence packed up angry and went home! I even over heard the senior officer in charge announcing they would have a debrief to discuss their failure to secure the perimeter, allowing the sister to completely diffuse their fun little opportunity to show force. For the record the police never entered the house. The victim, by the way was peacefully on a train to see some friends and was never any threat to anyone.

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