(Update at 8:05 pm) The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday to expand the partnership with Virginia Hospital Center for administering COVID-19 vaccines to the public.
The memorandum of understanding lays out how VHC would manage the online appointment system, operate vaccination clinics, bill insurance, and provide individuals with their proof of vaccination, on behalf of the county.
In turn, Arlington County agrees to order the vaccine from the state at VHC’s request, provide adequate location and space for the clinics, and manage a call center for those unable to make an appointment online.
The agreement would be retroactive to January 13.
County Manager Mark Schwartz recommends the approval and ratification of this agreement, which would also allow him to decide the location of such clinics and make similar agreements “with other entities for provision of space for pop-up vaccination events, consistent with the terms of the template MOU.”
While this agreement does not specify the locations of the clinics, community centers, school auditoriums, and pharmacies have all been discussed as possibilities. The Pentagon parking lot, however, likely will not be the site of a county vaccination clinic, according to Arlington’s health director.
VHC and the county announced a partnership agreement earlier this month for a vaccination clinic for residents over the age of 75.
However, as of Thursday (Jan. 21), VHC has closed scheduling for vaccinations. Today, the hospital posted the following update.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that going forward, disbursements of vaccines will go only to local health districts. Hospitals in Virginia will no longer receive vaccines directly from VDH.
As a result of this change, Virginia Hospital Center must cancel all future first dose appointments at our community vaccine clinics, including the Walter Reed Community Clinic and the VHC Physician Group clinic beginning with appointments that are scheduled for Jan. 26, 2021 and thereafter.
This change does not affect those receiving a second dose. If you already received your first dose at the VHC Physician Group or a VHC-run community vaccine clinic, you will still receive your second dose at the same location on your originally scheduled date and time.
The agreement that will be voted on will cover the over 75 vaccine clinic and other existing efforts, as well as additional clinics and administration tasks going forward, according to Ryan Hudson, the acting public information officer for the Arlington County Public Health Division.
“Arlington County is prepared to ramp up and expedite appointments as soon as the County receives additional doses from Virginia,” he wrote in an email to ARLnow.
Arlington County has faced criticism in recent days for the slow rollout of vaccines and an appointment system not working as promised. County officials have also previously said that all the necessary tasks needed to vaccinate Arlington residents would put a huge administrative burden on staff.
A constant refrain from County officials is that the Virginia Health Department is not providing enough vaccine doses to the county, which is slowing efforts. Other Northern Virginia localities have expressed similar complaints about a lack of vaccine supply from the Commonwealth.
The pace of vaccinations in Arlington has been quickening, nonetheless.
The current seven-day moving average of vaccine doses administered in Arlington is currently 545 per day, according to an ARLnow analysis of state health department data. As of Friday morning, a total of 8,385 doses have been administered and 735 people have been fully vaccinated, with two doses about one month apart.
Coronavirus cases in Arlington, meanwhile, have slowed after peaking ten days ago. The current seven-day moving average of new COVID cases in the county is 83 cases per day, down from 123 cases per day on Jan. 12.
A total of 26 COVID-related hospitalizations and nine deaths have been reported over the past week.
Screenshot from VHC video
The Arlington man accused of throwing dogs over an apartment balcony to their death would potentially not serve additional jail time under a proposed plea agreement.
The agreement, dated December 7, is signed by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, but not by the defendant or by his court-appointed attorney Adam Krischer.
ARLnow reached out to Krischer about the status of the agreement, who responded via email that he has no comment. We obtained a copy of the document upon request from the Arlington County Circuit Court, after receiving an anonymous tip about the potential plea agreement.
On January 5, according to documents provided, 27-year-old Zachary changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” — while asserting his innocence, in what is known as an Alford plea — for the charge of animal cruelty.
(ARLnow has decided to withhold the defendant’s last name from this article, despite it being publicly reported in previous articles, due to the mental health-related matters discussed in the plea agreement.)
The judge approved the plea and set the sentencing for February 12. The judge also required the defendant to undergo a substance abuse screening prior to sentencing.
Animal cruelty is a felony offense that carries a 1-5 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. The proposed plea agreement, however, calls for defer disposition for two years, meaning the plea to the felony charge could be withdrawn and dismissed if the defendant adheres to certain conditions.
According to the agreement, those conditions include completing substance abuse evaluation and treatment, undergoing mental health evaluation and counseling, remaining medication compliant, and completing 100 hours of community service.
The defendant also has to remain drug and alcohol free, refrain from owning any animals, and not to have any unsupervised contact with animals beyond those owned by family members.
Additionally, he has to pay restitution of about $1,800, including payments to the owner of one of the dogs that was killed and $567.29 to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
If Zachary does all of that, the proposed plea agreement states, the Commonwealth and the defendant will jointly ask the court to withdraw the guilty plea and provide an order of dismissal. If the defendant doesn’t adhere to the above conditions, he could be sent to prison.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Taft was elected in 2019 to be Arlington’s top prosecutor on a platform of reform and restorative justice. In an interview with Arlington Magazine last March, Dehghani-Taft said that the concept of restorative justice is about healing and taking responsibility.
“It asks the person who did the harm to search for change and transforms them into someone who doesn’t do it again,” she said. “It focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment.”
It’s a concept that also has gained popularity in other local jurisdictions.
When asked for comment about the plea agreement, Dehghani-Taft responded via email that rules “constrains me from making public statements about pending cases… Because the court has not yet accepted any plea, it could be seen as prejudicial for me to say something now.”
In a follow-up email, she stated that “I think the terms in the document the court has published are self-explanatory.”
A statement of facts about the case entered in court describes the April 27, 2020 incident in more detail.
Police responded to a call about two dogs being thrown off a fifth floor balcony of the Meridian apartment building at 1401 N. Taft Street in Courthouse. One belonged to the defendant and the other to his roommate. Both dogs were brought to veterinary facilities and later died from their injuries.
Zachary was detained without incident, but told the officers that he was diagnosed with anxiety and had not been taking his medication. He also said that he had recently smoked marijuana.
The reason for his actions, he told police, was that he wanted to repair his relationship with his roommate and felt the only way to do that was to kill the dogs.
Police spoke to the roommate and Zachary’s boyfriend, who both described the defendant as not acting like his normal self over the prior several days and possibly having a severe mental health crisis at the time.
Photo via Google Maps
While a number of these bills will eventually fail, unable to pass committees or the full General Assembly, a few of these proposals may ultimately become state law. And the odds are much greater than prior years.
Every one of Arlington’s state lawmakers are Democrats, and after years in the legislative minority Democrats currently hold the Virginia House of Delegates, the Virginia State Senate, and the Governorship.
Here are a few of the notable bills being proposed by Arlington lawmakers:
- HB 2164: Introduced by Del. Patrick Hope (47th District), the bill would reinforce the July 2019 law that no one under the age of 21 can purchase tobacco products by further defining them as nicotine vapor products or alternative nicotine products. It would also take away the expectation that those in active duty military but under 21 can purchase tobacco, and would disallow the selling of tobacco products from vending machines. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the General Laws Committee.
- HB 1854: Proposed by Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan (48th District), this bill would grant Arlington County the ability to rename the section of Route 29 — currently called “Lee Highway” — that lies within the county’s boundaries. In December, a local task force recommended renaming the road to “Loving Avenue.” The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Transportation Committee.
- SB 1159: Proposed by Sen. Barbara Favola (District 31), the bill would allow sick leave to be used to care for an immediate family member. The law would apply for all employers that have a sick leave program and have 25 or more employees. It also only applies to those employees who work more than 30 hours and leave is limited to five days per calendar year. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Commerce and Labor Committee.
- SB 1382: Also introduced by Sen. Favola, this bill would prohibit the purchase, possession, or transportation of a firearm by anyone who has been convicted of assault and battery of a family or household member. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Judiciary Committee.
- HJ 557: The proposal from Del. Alfonso Lopez (49th District) would repeal the 2006 Virginia constitutional amendment that defines marriage as “only a union between one man and one woman.” It would also no longer prohibit the Commonwealth from recognizing the legal status of “relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate… marriage.” In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, so essentially this proposal would codify and bring the Virginia Constitution up to date. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Privileges and Elections Committee.
It was President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s day, but for many, it was former First Lady Michelle Obama who stole the spotlight at the Inauguration.
Wearing all burgundy and plum ensemble in an outfit by LA-based designer Sergio Hudson, her bouncy curls matched the day’s mood. Quickly after Obama’s grand entrance, it was revealed by NBC 4’s Jummy Olabanji that the hair stylist behind her look was Arlington’s Yene Damtew.
— Jummy Olabanji (@JummyNBC) January 20, 2021
The 2015 grad of Arlington’s Marymount University owns Aesthetics Salon at 2444 26th Road S., near the Glebe Road exit of I-395.
Damatew was one of a number of Black entrepreneurs, along with Hudson and Christy Rilling who designed the couple’s masks, that Obama has continuously sought to highlight.
— Yene Damtew (@yenedamtew) January 20, 2021
But Damtew has worked with the former First Lady for more than a decade, having also styled her hair during her time in the White House and for best-selling 2018 memoir, “Becoming.”
ARLnow asked Damtew via email about how she became the former First Lady’s go-to hairstylist, what it was like on that special day, and what business been like since word got out.
The interview was edited for clarity and brevity.
What’s the story behind styling Mrs. Obama’s hair for this inauguration?
I have had a relationship with the Obamas since 2009. I was working for her then-stylist, Johnny Wright, and he brought me to the White House where I assisted with hair needs for the entire family.
Working in the White House for eight years was one of the highest honors of my life.
My relationship with Mrs. Obama has remained strong in her post-First Lady life. I’ve been blessed to stay on her style team along with my friends Carl Ray (makeup) and Meredith Koop (clothing). I did hair for her best-selling book “Becoming” and accompanied her on her two-year book tour across the world.
I consider her not just a client, but a friend and mentor.
What did you want to accomplish with her look?
I do always keep in mind that America LOVES Mrs. Obama and she always makes headlines based on what she’s wearing and how her hair looks.
Today was a day about celebrating their good friends, the Bidens, and the first Black woman Vice President. I wanted her look to match the moment! Volume and curls seemed like the way to go and I’m glad so many people loved it.
How long did it take to style?
I don’t talk specifics about any client, out of respect, but I’ve been doing hair long enough that I’m able to be very efficient!
I think I spent more time in the car navigating D.C. traffic and road shutdowns!
There were days in the White House and on the book tour where I would have to make changes very quickly. Once my client and I talk about what kind of look we want to create, it doesn’t take long.
Like with anything else the things that take the longest are sitting under the dryer with color treatments.
While it’s only been a few hours since the world found out, how has business been since? Is your salon being inundated with calls and appointments right now?
It’s been overwhelming — in a good way!
Our website has been inundated with requests for appointments. We do everything via email, so our inbox is very full. We hope to get back to everyone by the end of the week. I
In only a few years, I’ve grown my salon from one building to two and have added several more stylists on staff.
Whether a client meets with me or one of my other stylists we want them to walk out of our doors feeling like they have the confidence they need to take on the day.
The Arlington community has been so wonderful and supportive to my salon. I graduated from Marymount University in Arlington and live in Arlington.
It was only right to have my business in Arlington, too.
Photo (top) via Aesthetics Salon
A recent national report has revealed that rents in Arlington have dropped by 14.8% since last March, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by ApartmentList.com.
Arlington has had the seventh-largest decrease compared to other (much larger) markets, like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. D.C. had the fifth-largest decrease.
Between December and January, Arlington rents decreased by nearly 2.5%.
The median two-bedroom rent in the county is now $2,032, according to the report. However, Arlington still has the most expensive rents in the D.C. region, topping fellow close-in suburbs like Bethesda and Alexandria.
There’s one huge reason for the drop.
“It’s really tied to the economic carnage [from] the pandemic,” says Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. “Most of the jobs that we have lost have been in the hospitality services and retail sectors, which are typically disproportionately renters.”
Clower says parsing out data shows the pandemic has also caused behavioral changes in terms of renting. In general, high-rise units have seen a larger drop in demand than lower-rise properties, Clower notes.
“If part of your calculation of where you want to live at the moment is based on how dense the development is, how [crowded] it is in the elevator,” says Clower. “Then, you are less likely to live in a high rise.”
What’s more, there’s lower desire at the moment to live in high-density areas, according to Clower. While rent prices have declined in Arlington, they’ve risen in further D.C. area ‘burbs.
“Areas like Fredericksburg, Virginia… or Charles County, Maryland, rents have increased,” says Clower. “You’re getting… that effect of fleeing the dense inner suburbs to the less dense outer suburbs.”
The need for more space, as well, has shifted some renters to exploring buying single family homes. Between a lack of housing inventory and rising home values in Arlington, says Clower, demand for residences in the outer suburbs have also exploded.
“Most households in our region are two-income earner households, especially families with school-age children,” says Clower. “Kids need a place and both [parents] need some place to work inside the house, preferably not the kitchen table.”
Plus, lower interest rates have also encouraged first-time home buyers.
While rent decreases may be good for renters, it’s not good for property owners, developers, or even the county as a whole.
Clower says smaller landlords, those that only own a few properties, are not getting any break on mortgage payments, meaning decreasing rents impact their ability to pay their mortgage. In terms of the bigger developments, units are generating less revenue.
“They are less valuable in the market, which means that… the property taxes paid to local governments should be reduced as well,” says Clower. “Because they’re less valuable and generating less income.”
Arlington County depends on these property taxes to balance its budget and provide services to residents. But the full impact of all of this may not be seen until further into the future.
“The fiscal and economic down side of this pandemic is going to last well beyond… when we start getting the pandemic under control through the vaccinations,” says Clower.
Right now, it just may be a great moment to rent in Arlington. Clower says we can probably expect a continued slight dip in rents, but the big drop-off probably has already happened with vaccinations starting to happen.
“If you are looking for a good deal and prefer to be a renter,” says Clower, “it’s probably a good time to lock in a relatively long term lease.”
The 57-year-old Highlander Motor Inn is now closed and will be torn down to make room for a CVS store, owner Billy Bayne tells ARLnow.
The two-story motel at 3336 Wilson Blvd, near Clarendon, has been closed since December. Bayne expects demolition to begin on the building in March and the CVS to open in the fall.
Nonetheless, it has Bayne looking back fondly on the motel that his family has owned since the early 1960s.
“We have a lifetime of memories there,” says Bayne. He remembers spending time with his father at the motel, shooting baskets in the back, and going to Mario’s Pizza next door. He also remembers when local high schoolers had keg parties in the modestly-appointed rooms.
However, he says the motel shutting down and being demolished is ultimately a good thing.
It’s been increasingly hard to make money in the lodging business over the last two decades, Bayne notes, particularly with the rise of discounted rate websites and Airbnb. Plus, given Arlington business and hotel taxes, small hotels have to charge higher rates to stay afloat, says Bayne.
“[Customers] have a choice to stay at the Highlander or a Marriott for a hundred dollars,” says Bayne. “And I can’t compete against that anymore.”
Bayne says he’s leasing the land to CVS, which will continue to provide a revenue stream for him and his children. Bayne declined to provide monetary specifics about the deal, but did say it’s long-term.
In April, Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services rented out the Highlander as temporary COVID-related housing, providing a financial lifeline during an otherwise rough time for the hotel business.
The motel provided “quarantine/isolation space for low-income individuals who were living in overcrowded or congregate settings, and unable to effectively quarantine or isolate,” a department spokesperson told ARLnow this past summer.
Bayne is effusive in his praise of county officials for working with him, and the fact that they essentially kept the hotel going for another six months. While he charged Arlington a discounted rate, it helped pay the bills.
“[County] workers were all very professional and nice. The county was super,” he says.
The praise is despite years of legal wrangling with Arlington over the development of the property. The legal battles — which Bayne ultimately won after the Virginia Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the county — cost him at least $250,000, he says.
But with development finally happening, Bayne’s animosity towards local officials seems to be waning.
“Obviously, I had my differences with them but the county was very good to us,” he says.
Bayne also owns Crystal City Sports Pub and the Crystal City Restaurant gentlemen’s club, which he briefly considered renaming “National Landing Strip” after the relatively new collective term for Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard.
As of the moment, he says changing the business’s name is not on his priority list, while adding that “if Bezos wanted me to do it, I would do it.”
The local restaurateur is thinking about retirement but says the pandemic set him back “a few years.” He’s had to dig into savings and sell stocks to weather the storm and will reevaluate his options once his daughter gets through school.
Meanwhile, he’s remembering and expressing gratitude to those that have kept the motel going through the decades. This includes Nettie Harris, head of housekeeping for more than 30 years.
“She was the Highlander Motor Inn, the epitome of the place,” Bayne says. “When I think of [the motel], I think of my father and her. She’s family.”
When asked if he plans to watch the demolition of his family’s long-time business, he was noncommittal. But he will certainly share one last memory in front of the building before it comes down, commemorating the end of an era.
“I’m going to take pictures of it before it happens,” Bayne says. “And there will be one final picture before it gets torn down with me, my wife, and my kids.”
Arlington is continuing its final preparations for a presidential inauguration unlike any other.
In wake of the U.S. Capitol riots and a still-raging pandemic (though, cases are currently on a downward trajectory), tomorrow’s inauguration of President Joe Biden will be a scaled-down and highly militarized affair.
A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. are either completely shut down or have significantly altered traffic patterns.
Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. D.C.-bound lanes on the Roosevelt Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to a Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of D.C. road closures.
Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Road/MacArthur Blvd, according to the advisory.
Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland. Despite the unprecedented bridge closures today, traffic on N. Glebe Road leading to Chain Bridge appeared little changed from a typical weekday, suggesting that between the pandemic and the inauguration many would-be commuters were staying at home.
Traffic on the Key Bridge was heavy this morning (as seen in the photo above), as was the traffic being diverted from the 14th Street Bridge.
I-395 N diverts trucks @ Washington Blvd, 14th Bridge closed, delays from Pentagon with traffic diverting to GW Prkwy.
— WTOP Traffic (@WTOPtraffic) January 19, 2021
The county is advising residents to use the live cameras that are set up to monitor traffic.
On Friday, a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers said that this inauguration “will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history” and local law enforcement is trying to have a response “that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far.”
Reiterating previous statements, the Arlington County Police Department says there will be an increased “visible and non-visible” police presence in the county tomorrow. ACPD also remains in contact with neighboring law enforcement agencies about changing information and intelligence.
At this time, there are still no known threats to Arlington County, and the department still hasn’t committed to providing resources outside of the county on Inauguration Day, per ACPD spokesperson Ashley Savage.
Newly unsealed court documents, meanwhile, reveal that members of Oath Keepers militia, a far-right extremist group currently being investigated by the FBI, booked rooms for January 5 to 7 at the Comfort Inn hotel in Ballston, ahead of the January 6 storming of the Capitol.
In a Facebook message referenced in the documents, a Oath Keepers member said that the location would allow them to “hunt at night.”
Newly unsealed charging docs: Virginia man, member of Oath Keepers militia allegedly involved in coordinating travel to DC for others. Sent a FB message on 1/1 saying the hotel they'd booked was a good location that would allow them to "hunt at night" https://t.co/SbhKZEUjE8 pic.twitter.com/SZmXnXtmSf
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) January 19, 2021
Earlier this month, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti told ARLnow that the county was aware of at least one local hotel hosting Trump supporters. The situation was monitored, he said, but no behavior there rose to a level of concern at the time.
ARLnow contacted Comfort Inn and was told by an hotel employee that management “definitely does not want to comment” on the allegations included in the documents.
We also have reached out to the hotel’s parent company Choice Hotels, but have yet to hear back as of publication time.
Jo DeVoe contributed to this report.
A new Virginia Railway Express station could bring Amtrak service to Crystal City, says a new report.
The expanded and relocated station is set to open in 2024 and Amtrak is currently “exploring” adding regional service to this station.
This according to a National Landing Business Improvement District report released earlier this month, detailing a number of significant transportation projects scheduled for completion over the decade (many of which long have been in the works).
Responding to inquiries from ARLnow, an Amtrak spokesperson wrote in an email that the planning remains underway “so it’s premature to discuss in depth expansion plans.”
The VRE station station will be built on land owned by real estate developer JBG Smith and will be designed to host Amtrak trains as well as Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) trains. (Neighboring Alexandria has an existing Amtrak station.)
The $50 million two-track station will be built on Crystal Drive between 12th Street S. and Airport Access Road, about a quarter mile from the current one-track station. That existing station was built about 40 years ago and has been called a “operational bottleneck.”
Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, executive director and president of the National Landing BID, says bringing an Amtrak station to Crystal City would “shrink the region” and would enable a “direct one-seat ride between our region by commuter rail.” Some day those heading to New York City might be able to just head to Crystal City to get on a train, rather than trek into D.C. and battle crowds at Union Station.
Gabriel does note that Amtrak has yet to decide about adding a station there.
Along with a new VRE station, a new two-track railway bridge across the Potomac is also being planned. It will replace the 116-year-old Long Bridge and is estimated to be completed by 2030. Gabriel says the existing bridge is also a “bottleneck.”
Other projects highlighted in the report include the $650 million Project Journey at Reagan National Airport set to be completed this year, the continued construction of the new Potomac Yard Metro station, adding a new entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, replacing Route 1 with a “unifying, urban boulevard,” and a pedestrian walkway over the George Washington Memorial Parkway connecting Crystal City to the airport.
According to Gabriel, the airport bridge would create a five-minute walk from the train station to the airport, as opposed to a walk that’s currently long and somewhat dangerous.
All of these projects together, including the possible presence of Amtrak, could transform the neighborhoods collectively known as National Landing, said Gabriel.
“Investments of this scale are really positioning us to be the most connected downtown in the country,” she said.
Full press release about the report is below.
(Updated on 1/17/21) A number of bridges connecting Arlington to D.C. across the Potomac River are closing due to presidential inauguration security measures.
Virginia State Police is working with the United States Secret Service to close Roosevelt Bridge, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, the I-395 Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge starting Tuesday morning through Thursday at 6 a.m., according to a joint statement from Virginia lawmakers.
The Arlington Memorial Bridge closed Friday night but then reopened, according to news reports. The HOV span of the 14th Street Bridge was set to close Saturday morning until Thursday, according to the Secret Service, but was open as of noon on Saturday.
Those closures would leave the Key Bridge in Rosslyn and the Chain Bridge from N. Glebe Road as the main routes from Arlington into the District for two days.
“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far,” reads the lawmakers’ statement.
It was issued by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Jennifer Wexton.
“It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum,” the lawmakers added. “All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe.”
Additionally, Metro announced this afternoon that the Pentagon Metro station will be closed, and bus service there suspended, on Inauguration Day.
“Blue and Yellow Line trains will continue to operate but will pass through the station without stopping,” Metro said. “The Pentagon Transit Center, served by six Metrobus lines, will also be closed. Buses will be relocated instead to Pentagon City, on the east side of Hayes Street S. and 12th Street S. for the day.”
Arlington Cemetery station is also closing, along with a number of D.C. stations, starting today.
Virginia Railway Express trains, meanwhile, will not be running Monday through Wednesday, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and “enhanced security measures” related to the presidential inauguration.
While Arlington Acting Police Chief Andy Penn didn’t commit to any road closures in Arlington as of yet, he did say discussions are ongoing.
There will be more police officers on Arlington’s streets on Inauguration Day and the days leading up to it.
Some officers will be easily spotted, said acting police chief Charles “Andy” Penn. Others, not so much.
“There will definitely be an increased police presence throughout Arlington,” Penn said in an interview with ARLnow. “Some visible, some not visible.”
ACPD “will deploy increased police resources,” but there are “no known threats to Arlington County as this time,” the department noted in a press release Thursday.
The current focus is on the public safety and protection of Arlington residents, Penn says. He didn’t comment on whether ACPD has received any mutual aid requests from D.C. police or the federal government as of yet, but did say the police department hasn’t agreed to anything.
“At this point, we’ve not committed to any mutual aid requests outside of… the Commonwealth,” he said.
Prior to the U.S. Capitol riots, ACPD did receive and agree to mutual aid requests from D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Arlington police officers were seen defending the U.S. Capitol from pro-Trump rioters and insurrectionists in a video from Jan 6. They helped to replace “hurt and tired D.C. officers on the front lines,” according to a new Washington Post account of the chaos.
As previously reported, no ACPD officers were seriously injured and Penn confirmed that this remains the case.
Penn says that the department had a “significant number” of officers assisting MPD over three days last week, but none are deployed in D.C. currently.
Two U.S. Capitol Police officers and one Anne Arundel County officer are currently under investigation for alleged actions during the insurrection. Penn says no such investigations are taking place in regards to Arlington officers.
“I am not aware of any allegation that any members of this agency were involved in any unlawful behavior, he says. “And if we become aware, it’s certainly something we would investigate.”
Penn reiterated that as inaugural preparations are underway, the situation remains “fluid” and plans are subject to change. They’ve had staff assigned to inauguration efforts for weeks now, he says, but the events of the last ten days have changed some previous plans.
Penn added that the county is in constant contact with regional, state, and federal agencies and Arlington is committed to sharing both intelligence and resources with those partners.
“Our goal, collectively, is to make sure that we’re ensuring the safety of this region and doing everything proactively that we can to be prepared for that, have good response plans, and have appropriate numbers of staff,” he says.”
That could mean road closures. As of right now, no road closures are planned but discussions are underway about the potential necessity of doing that.
Same for potentially implementing a curfew, like last Wednesday.
“I think the curfew would depend on the situation at the time. There has been some minimal conversation about that, but there’s no plan to do that at this point,” Penn says.
Travel options Arlington and the District will be limited between. D.C. has announced road closures and Metro has announced numerous downtown Metro closures. Heeding the advice of local officials, Arlington Democrats have arranged special inauguration events in Arlington, in lieu of heading to the District.
ACPD is encouraging anyone who spots suspicious activity on Inauguration Day or in the days leading up to it, particularly in areas where crowds gather — “shopping centers, restaurant districts, religious services, and public transportation hubs to name a few” — to report it immediately.
“The more we work collectively as a community, the safer we’re going to be,” Penn said. “We’re always better when we’re working as a large team in the Arlington community.”