Arlington, VA

Narcotics may have claimed two more lives in Arlington over the weekend.

Police removed two bodies from an apartment along N. George Mason Drive in the Buckingham neighborhood Sunday night, a local resident told ARLnow. A police spokeswoman tells us that the preliminary death investigation pointed to drugs as a likely cause.

“At approximately 6:52 p.m. on August 2, police were dispatched to the 300 block of N. George Mason Drive for the report of a possible death,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

“Upon arrival, an adult male and female were located deceased inside a residence,” Savage continued. “Based on the preliminary investigation, the deaths are being investigated as possible overdoses. Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

Arlington has seen a resurgence in opioid overdoses and deaths this year, as the pandemic leaves people jobless and at home, exacerbating substance abuse issues. The surge threatens to reverse progress since the opioid crisis in Arlington peaked in 2017.

Two weeks ago, ACPD revealed that its officers had used life-saving Naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses nine times so far this year. Prior to the weekend’s deaths, the county had recorded 38 opioid overdoses and 10 deaths so far this year, compared to 42 overdoses and 6 deaths for all of 2019.

More from a police press release:

Since the start of the year, nine individuals have recovered from opioid overdoses following the deployment of Nasal Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) by responding officers. This comes as the number of police investigated incidents involving opioids begins to rise, with fatal incidents now surpassing those reported in 2019. The opioid crisis remains a significant issue facing our community. The Arlington County Police Department is sharing information and resources to promote awareness, prevention and action to ultimately save lives.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Arlington

Starting in 2016, the Arlington community began seeing a significant increase in the number of opioid overdoses and deaths reported in the County. To help individuals, families, parents and friends understand the risks associated with opioids and resources available to help with this growing crisis, Arlington developed the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative (AARI). AARI is a collaborative program comprised of stakeholders from across the county including treatment providers, first responders, the justice system, schools, the hospital, and non-profit organizations. The initiative takes a multi-faceted approach to addressing the opioid epidemic by focusing on prevention and education, addiction treatment, response and recovery and criminal investigation and enforcement. […]

Investigating Opioid-Related Incidents

Detectives from the police department’s Organized Crime Section assist with every opioid-related overdose and collaborate with detectives from the Homicide/Robbery Unit on fatal incidents to ensure a complete and thorough investigation. Prioritization has been placed on investigating cases involving heroin and opioids and identifying those that distribute dangerous controlled substances within our community. Whenever possible, overdose victims are referred to the DHS’ overdose outreach program for follow-up after an incident involving opioids. This referral system has led to an increase in the number of individuals seeking treatment for opioid use disorders through County programs.

Additional Resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are numerous treatment resources available in Arlington and through the Department of Human Services. Assistance is also available through Operation Safe Station, a designated safe environment where individuals wishing to seek help with their drug use can self-report and receive services, without fear of prosecution and incarceration. Community members are also encouraged to prevent medication misuse or overdose by safely disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medication in one of Arlington’s four permanent drug take-back boxes or by requesting a free deactivation bag.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Storm May Affect Waste Collection — “In preparation for the upcoming storm ‘Isaias,’ residents should properly secure trash, recycling, and yard waste carts in case of flooding and high winds… The storm may cause additional delays in collection services. Please leave un-serviced carts at the curb (if not a flood risk) until they are collected.” [Arlington County]

County COVID Testing Sites Closed — “Arlington’s COVID-19 sample collection sites at 1429 N. Quincy Street and Arlington Mill Community Center will be CLOSED Tuesday, August 4, in anticipation of inclement weather.” [Arlington County]

Apartment Operator Suspends Evictions — “AHC Inc., one of the D.C. region’s largest managers of affordable housing, will not move to evict any of its residents struggling amid the coronavirus crisis for the rest of the year. The company announced the move in a letter to roughly 5,000 tenants in late July, just before August rents started to come due. The Arlington company also said it won’t charge any late fees for missed payments, or seek to impose any rent increases, until at least Jan. 1.” [Washington Business Journal]

Stabbing in Ballston on Sunday — “At approximately 5:55 p.m. on August 2, police were dispatched to the report of a stabbing. Upon arrival, officers made contact with Metro Transit Police, who had already arrived on scene and detained the suspect. The investigation determined that the victim was sitting in the park when the suspect allegedly approached him from behind and struck him with a sharp object, causing a laceration. The victim was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.” [Arlington County]

Boy Scout Troop Donates Food — “Scout families and members of Troop 167 in Arlington delivered 1,500 packages of food to local families facing unemployment and financial instability during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic.” [Patch]

New Officers Sworn In — ” In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arlington County Police Department added 15 new officers to its ranks, following the graduation of Session 142 from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy (NVCJA) and their completion of additional, supplementary local training.” [Arlington County]

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Isaias made landfall in North Carolina last night as a Category 1 hurricane and is now approaching the D.C. area as a tropical storm.

Wind from the storm is expected to ramp up locally over the next hour, but the main threat remains heavy rain.

The National Weather Service issued a Flood Warning this morning for Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax. Several additional inches of rain are likely to fall and cause flooding, forecasters say.

More from NWS:

BULLETIN – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
701 AM EDT TUE AUG 4 2020

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR…
THE CITY OF FAIRFAX IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
EASTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…

* UNTIL 100 PM EDT.

* AT 700 AM EDT, DOPPLER RADAR AND AUTOMATED RAIN GAUGES INDICATED THAT HEAVY RAIN WAS FALLING OVER THE AREA. THE HEAVY RAIN WILL CAUSE FLOODING. UP TO ONE INCH OF RAIN HAS ALREADY FALLEN.ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF SEVERAL INCHES ARE POSSIBLE, AND FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS COULD BE REQUIRED LATER TODAY. FOR NOW, THOUGH, FLOODING WILL BE RELATIVELY SLOW TO DEVELOP.

* SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE… ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, RESTON, ANNANDALE, SPRINGFIELD, FORT WASHINGTON, FAIRFAX, FORT HUNT, VIENNA, GROVETON, FALLS CHURCH, HUNTINGTON, MANTUA, FORT BELVOIR, PIMMIT HILLS, NATIONAL HARBOR, MCLEAN, REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT, ROSSLYN AND CRYSTAL CITY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN WHEN ENCOUNTERING FLOODED ROADS. MOST FLOOD DEATHS OCCUR IN VEHICLES.

A FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR OCCURRING. ALL INTERESTED PARTIES SHOULD TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS IMMEDIATELY.

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(Updated at 8:20 p.m.) The chairman of the Arlington GOP has been booted from the “Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19” Facebook group for threatening to expose those who file complaints about local businesses.

In a post on Sunday, one of the group’s moderators said that Andrew Loposser posted screenshots showing the names and contact information of people who filed complaints about COVID-related violations in Virginia. He also threatened to reveal information others who complain.

“We have removed and blocked the chairman of the Arlington County Republican Committee, Mr. Andrew Loposser, from Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19,” wrote moderator Joshua Farrar.

He continued:

Threatening to dox and protest members of our community who report potential violations of our public health policies, developed and enacted in response to COVID-19, in the interest of public health, is entirely unacceptable. Comparisons of those who support public health restrictions on local business to Nazis are horrid and inappropriate, and diminish the experiences of Holocaust survivors, and are an affront to the memory of the millions of lives upended and extinguished, murdered, by Hitler and his machinery of extermination. We do not know how this individual was able to obtain complaint data and we do not know what other data this individual possesses. As such, we have reported this incident to local authorities.

Loposser appears to have also made a “Nazi” comparison in response to a post about Arlington’s new restrictions on sidewalk gatherings and queues.

Loposser tells ARLnow that he decided to write the post about those filing complaints to combat what he described as a culture of “hysteria” over the pandemic.

“I believe people who are fomenting hysteria across Virginia and in our community should be criticized for creating an unsafe environment surrounding coronavirus guidelines,” he said. “The ‘Arlington Neighbors’ Facebook group is… being driven by misinformed busybodies who are wreaking havoc on businesses they don’t like. I posted about those busybodies, and the partisan admins block people they don’t agree with.”

Though outdoor gatherings are believed to be safer than indoor gatherings during the pandemic, a number of recent posts on the Facebook group have focused on outdoor behavior perceived as risky.

“I was out walking in my neighborhood and a rude runner ran literally right up on me, close enough I felt him breathe on me on an exhale,” wrote one user. “Should I be worried about being breathed on? Ew. I’m obviously annoyed and shaken, especially since I was a bit startled.”

Comments about the encounter were split between those criticizing runners and cyclists who don’t wear masks and those who do not believe such momentary outdoor encounters are likely to spread the disease.

“Hi, does anyone think The Lot in Clarendon is a nightmare and coronavirus mega spreader?” asked another user, regarding the outdoor beer garden, in a post that received more than 100 comments.

“Businesses like The Lot are being constantly harassed… with no regard to state or federal guidelines on outdoor gatherings,” Loposser said. “There are dozens of posts in the ‘Arlington Neighbors’ group driving this ridiculous narrative… The group used to be a net positive in our community, and it’s devolved to ‘Lord of the Flies.'”

Loposser said the Facebook group is private and “can do what they want,” but decried treatment of those skeptical of the prevailing views around ways to prevent COVID-19 infections.

“People with minority viewpoints are constantly personally attacked in this group,” he said. “It’s certainly a microcosm of the kind of intolerance we see in liberal communities like Arlington… Stepping outside the majority groupthink will get you personally belittled and attacked.”

The “Arlington Neighbors” group has been trying to combat toxic discourse that seems endemic to any online forum of a certain size in 2020. In a new post this morning, co-founder Kellen MacBeth outlined new posting guidelines intended to make the group a more welcoming and helpful place.

Among them: no posting photos of people “with the intent to shame” and no “unverified information about businesses or COVID-19 that could cause harm.”

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Arlington is experiencing a rash of car-related crimes, with three separate theft sprees listed in today’s local crime report.

A man was arrested early Friday morning after security at the Pentagon City mall allegedly saw him break into three unlocked vehicles and try to break into two others. The suspect, who was not named, is expected to be charged with larceny from auto.

Around 7 a.m. Friday morning, another series of auto crimes was reported, this time along Glebe Road just south of Lee Highway. Someone smashed the windows of eight vehicles and stole airbags from seven of them, according to Arlington County police.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, police say they were dispatched to the Aurora Highlands neighborhood for a report of multiple vehicles being stolen. They found three cars had been stolen overnight, including a BMW, a Nissan and a Honda.

Arlington County police warned residents last week to lock their car doors and not leave keys in the car, in response to at least 31 cars being stolen in July. The county has also seen multiple carjackings over the past couple of months. Auto crimes are rising in Arlington, according to the latest ACPD annual report.

More on the most recent thefts, from today’s crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-07310016, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 1:25 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto in progress. Arriving officers located an individual matching the description provided by security and detained him without incident. The investigation determined that mall security observed the suspect enter approximately three unlocked vehicles and attempt to enter two other locked vehicles unsuccessfully. Charges are pending for the suspect.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series),  2020-07310042, 2100 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:09 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 30 and 6:45 a.m. on July 31, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows to eight vehicles and stole the airbags from seven of those vehicles. The targeted vehicles were all Honda models. There are no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

GRAND LARCENY AUTO (series), 2020-07310058/07310087, 600 block of 29th Road S./2300 block of S. Inge Street. At approximately 10:06 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicles stolen. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately 3 vehicles were stolen from the area overnight. The vehicles are described as: VA VKN8674, 2016 Honda Accord, Brown; VA ULY5206, 2016 BMW 428i, Gray; and VA UJT9855, 2020 Nissan Armada, Beige. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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With coronavirus cases in Arlington continuing to rise, and large crowds still congregating in Clarendon on weekends, the County Board took action late last week to try to cut down on sidewalk crowding.

The Board unanimously passed an emergency ordinance “prohibiting groups of more than three people from congregating on streets and sidewalks posted with the restrictions, and requiring pedestrians to maintain at least six feet of physical separation from others on the posted streets and sidewalks,” according to a press release.

The ordinance, which will be the subject of a public hearing in September, was approved during a closed session Friday evening. Violations will be treated as a traffic infraction, with a fine not to exceed $100, though Board members said the goal will be to educate the public and achieve voluntary compliance without the need to write tickets.

The action seemed to be aimed at bar-going crowds in Clarendon, as photos are posted on social media of large queues of people outside of nightlife spots like The Lot and Whitlows.

“It’s insane!” local resident Mike Gardell said of the scene this past weekend. “Lines down sidewalks, no social distancing, about one quarter with masks but around their chins or on their wrists. And, for some reason, not one police officer in sight.”

During Friday’s meeting, County Board member Christian Dorsey said Phase 3 of Virginia’s reopening, which allowed more people to gather in restaurants, “has exposed to us a real gap in our ability to ensure the public’s health.” Social distancing can be enforced inside restaurants, Dorsey said, but gatherings on sidewalks was not explicitly prohibited.

“This is absolutely necessary,” Dorsey said of the ordinance, which will be enforced by the police department following a public education campaign and the posting of signs. Board members said the aim is to achieve “a culture of compliance” without a single infraction being issued.

Coronavirus cases in Arlington, meanwhile, continue to rise. Twenty new cases were reported overnight, bringing the cumulative total to 2,945 and the seven-day rate of new cases to 122, a two-week high. There have also been five new hospitalizations over the past week.

The county’s test positivity rate, however, remains relatively low at just 4.4%. Arlington’s average daily testing rate is near an all-time high: 420 PCR-based tests per day.

While cases in Northern Virginia remain steady, the rest of the state is still seeing an elevated level of new cases and a sharp rise in COVID-related deaths.

More on the Arlington’s emergency sidewalk crowding ordinance, below, via a county press release.

Read More

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(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Arlington County is urging residents to prepare today for Tropical Storm Isaias, which is currently making its way up the East Coast.

While windy conditions and some thunderstorms are likely as Isaias approaches this afternoon and evening, the main threat locally is heavy rain. Forecasters say the tropical storm could dump 3-6 inches of rain on the immediate D.C. area, potentially causing flooding.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Arlington, D.C. and surrounding areas through Tuesday. A Tropical Storm Watch was upgraded to a Tropical Storm Warning late Monday morning.

The last time such a warning was issued for Arlington was for Hurricane Irene in 2011. That storm caused moderate damage around Arlington, mostly from felled trees.

More on the storm threat and preparations:

Read More

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Morning Notes

Dozens March for Racial Justice — “A group of about 100 people marched more than three miles on a hot August afternoon through Arlington demanding justice for victims of police brutality and calling on the county’s elected officials to bring police reform to the county.” [Patch]

Police Investigating More KKK Stickers — “Stickers that appear to promote the Ku Klux Klan have been found on traffic signs and utility boxes in Arlington over the past month, Arlington police said… They were found between July 2 and 28 in four locations, mostly in the Yorktown neighborhood, on the back of traffic signs and on a utility box.” [Washington Post]

Big Power Outage on Saturday — “A power outage in South Arlington has about 3,000 customers without power, according to Dominion Energy. The outage is affecting several neighborhoods between Columbia Pike and Interstate 395, including Arlington Mill, Columbia Forest, Douglas Park, and Nauck.” [WJLA]

Parents Rally Against School Plan — “All 12 school jurisdictions in the D.C. area have announced their intentions to start the 2020-2021 school year virtually, and not all parents are pleased with that decision. Vienna, Va. resident Jill Gartin rallied with other parents and students today at Arlington district headquarters to make their voices heard… ‘It’s been awful because I have five kids running on one wifi. It’s draining and the kids are miserable.'” [WJLA]

Ribbon Cutting for Vida — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week for Vida Fitness’ new Ballston location, its first outside of D.C. It’s only the second ribbon cutting pictured on the Chamber’s Instagram account (the first was Bowlero in Crystal City) since the pandemic started. [Instagram]

Meridian Pint Fighting for Survival — “As you all may have heard, there is a possibility we may have to permanently close our doors. With the effects of Covid-19 the restaurant industry is feeling an enormous impact, Meridian Pint is no exception. We did get a Payroll Protection Loan but those funds have since been fully depleted. We are asking for your help.” [Facebook]

Nearby: MoCo May Reinstate Restrictions — “COVID-19 cases have been increasing across the state while Montgomery County’s have plateaued to about 70 to 80 new cases a day. But now officials are considering whether to reinstate some restrictions to try to decrease the virus’s spread and reduce cases.” [Bethesda Magazine]

Yes, But Where’s *This* Story? — Wondering why something that happened over the weekend was not included in Morning notes? We may be planning to cover it later today. Or, if it’s something that we might not know about, you can tell us about it for potential future coverage.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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ARLnow Weekend Discussion

It’s the last day of July. August is hours away and fall is within sight — mercifully, given the heat wave over the past few weeks.

This post is being written in advance (even editors need a half day of vacation sometimes) so without knowing the topic of today’s Beermonger post, a word of caution to beer fans: stock up on your shandies now, before you know it they’ll be gone and only Oktoberfest and pumpkin seasonal beers will be on the shelves (if they’re not there already).

Here are this week’s most-read articles on ARLnow:

  1. Petition Asks Arlington Schools to Ditch Microsoft Teams and Use Zoom Instead
  2. Arlington, Neighborhoods Top Lists of Best Places in U.S.
  3. Protesters Blocking Key Bridge, Rosslyn Intersection
  4. New Restaurant Coming to Arlington Heights Neighborhood
  5. Large Comcast Outage Reported in Arlington
  6. It’s Time to Ditch the County Logo, Arlington NAACP Says
  7. Ten Questions You Might Have About Recycling in Arlington, Answered
  8. 2020 Turns Arlington Online Forums into Dumpster Fires
  9. Another Carjacking Reported in Arlington Over the Weekend

Feel free to discuss those or any other topics of interest in the comments. Have a nice weekend!

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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The trailing seven-day rate of new coronavirus cases in Arlington is back into the triple digits.

Twenty-three new cases were reported overnight, bringing the seven-day total of new cases to 114. One new COVID-related death was reported in the county, the first in two weeks. Three new hospitalizations have been reported over the past two days.

About three-fifths of new cases are among those ages 20-39.

The cumulative total of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths among Arlington residents now stands at 2,897, 434 and 136, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health.

New cases in Northern Virginia as a whole remain relatively steady, averaging about 200 new cases per day. The rest of the state has seen a significant rise in new cases, prompting Gov. Ralph Northam to impose new restrictions in the Hampton Roads area this week.

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Fulfilling a long-delayed promise, Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey dropped off a cashier’s check for $10,000 to the headquarters of the Amalgamated Transit Union International yesterday.

The action is, one would assume, the last chapter in the saga of a political donation that caused Dorsey to lose his seat on the WMATA Board and lose the trust of some of his constituents in Arlington.

Dorsey was ordered by the WMATA Board to return the $10,000 political donation to his Christian Dorsey for County Board political committee due to a conflict of interest — between his role in helping to run the transit agency and his acceptance of a donation from its largest labor union. He also faced ethics scrutiny for not disclosing the donation for four months.

Dorsey resigned from the WMATA Board in February after failing to return the donation; at the time, he did not have sufficient funds in his campaign account to do so. Most of Dorsey’s campaign cash in 2019 went to himself and his wife, in the form of loan repayments and payments for campaign services, respectively.

Dorsey filed for personal bankruptcy in October 2019. The bankruptcy case was still active in federal court as of last week.

Friends helped to raise additional campaign funds for Dorsey in February and March, despite him not being up for reelection until 2023. In addition to donations from fellow elected officials and from individuals, Dorsey accepted $1,000 from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and $2,000 from Steamfitters Local Union #602.

Dorsey wrote a $10,000 check dated Feb. 24, 2020 and sent it to ATU International but, according to reporting by the Washington Post last week, the check was somehow lost when it was sent from the union to the bank.

In response to subsequent inquiries from ARLnow, Dorsey said on Thursday that he had dropped off a cashier’s check drawn from his campaign account. He provided a photo of the check, and ATU International spokesman David Roscow confirmed that it had been received.

“I’d like for this saga to be closed as well, and will cooperate as necessary to do so,” Dorsey told ARLnow earlier in the week, though he added that he saw it as closed “at least as it pertains to my responsibility in the matter.”

“My promise was to return the contribution, which I did, as evidenced through the certified mail receipt and acknowledgment by ATU in February/March,” he said. “That they didn’t process it is a matter I cannot speak to, nor can I reasonably be held responsible for.”

According to the Virginia Dept. of Elections website, Dorsey’s campaign initially submitted a campaign finance report on July 15 that did not include the February return of the donation. That report was amended on July 19, to include the $10,000 check as an expenditure. The Post reported on July 23 that the check was never cashed.

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