Arlington police are investigating a series of harassing emails sent to a group of female Arlington County Fire Department employees this summer.
To move the inquiry along, the police department has offered a $20,000 reward to the first person within ACFD who provides information that leads to the identification and arrest of the anonymous sender, per a copy of the reward notice shared with ARLnow.
The reward notice is labeled as “confidential” and not for dissemination outside of public safety personnel.
In June, several female ACFD employees received anonymous emails that amounted to criminal harassment, the notice said.
“The emails continued throughout the month of June until they were sent en masse to Arlington County Fire Department staff,” it says. “These emails have impacted additional personnel outside of those who directly received the emails.”
ACPD began its criminal harassment investigation the same month, police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. She said the county subsequently funded a reward to support the ongoing investigation and the notice was sent to ACFD personnel.
The notice comes on the heels of an August report by WTOP detailing harassment that some 30 women in ACFD allege they have endured for several years. The report is based on a letter, shared with the news outlet, in which the women call attention to “a troubling pattern of misconduct and a culture that jeopardizes our safety and well-being.”
WTOP says the letter describes years of “anonymous emails and text messages, often sexual in nature,” sent to women employees, as well as specific instances where some employees were sexually harassed or assaulted.
ACPD has received previous reports of harassing communications, Savage confirmed to ARLnow. The notice likewise links the emails sent this June to “previous unsolved cases involving anonymous, sexually explicit messages.”
This is all the information Savage says ACPD can share for now, however.
“To ensure the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation, no additional details are available for release at this time,” she said.
Brian Lynch, president of the firefighters union, Local 2800, condemned the harassing emails as “straight up unacceptable” and praised the women who came forward, noting many actively participate in union efforts.
“No one should be subjected to this vile conduct,” Lynch said in a statement to ARLnow. “Our entire union stands behind the victims here. As evidenced by the email reported on by WTOP, harassment is a problem that has gone on too long in our department, and too many members have been suffering in silence.”
ARLnow asked the fire department how long it has known about harassing emails, if it instructed the alleged victims to file police reports, whether ACFD is investigating the new allegations and if it has concluded any prior inquiries.
ACFD Capt. Nate Hiner confirmed the department is investigating “allegations raised by employees,” but did not otherwise respond directly to ARLnow’s questions.
Hiner also provided the following statement, which matches what WTOP previously received from the county.
Arlington County will continue to work with staff, hear their concerns, and take necessary actions to strengthen the safety and security of our workforce. Employees and volunteers of Arlington County have various avenues to report any concerns, issues, or allegations including the Office of Human Rights. Arlington County appreciates those who have raised concerns and supports those who are affected by the allegations.
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Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
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Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to