Support

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington County workers power washed away Black Lives Matter chalk art in front of a home in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood this morning.

An outraged neighbor posted on social media about the removal of the chalk art, which featured words and phrases like “There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” “Justice 4 All,” “MLK,” and “BLM.” A portion of the art was on the county-owned sidewalk and road, while the rest was in the home’s driveway.

“I am both saddened and outraged. My friend and colleague at Ashlawn has had a formal complaint made about her daughter’s chalk art on the driveway, sidewalk and street in front of their home,” wrote Dana Crepeau. “I spoke with the Arlington County employees, who did not want to remove the chalk but were told they must. I asked permission to post their photos.”

“It appears the neighbor who called the county has previously taken it upon herself to erase other chalk drawings in support of Black Lives Matter,” Crepeau added. She noted that today (Friday) is Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the emancipation of the last enslaved persons during the Civil War, which just became a state holiday in Virginia.

“Do I understand correctly that the county forced Black employees to erase messages in support of Black Lives Matter on Juneteenth and apparently saw no problem with that?” asked a commenter on Crepeau’s Facebook post.

“Yes, you are understanding this correctly,” she replied.

The residents were not home when an ARLnow reporter knocked on the door shortly before noon. The mother of the girl whose art was erased — Yvaal Hampton, a second grade teacher at Ashlawn Elementary — said in an email sent to the neighborhood listserv that “today, I feel like an outsider.”

Dear Boulevard Manor,

When my family and I moved into the neighborhood about a year and a half ago we were welcomed by a few amazing neighbors and I thought “this is going to be great.” Well today, I feel like an outsider. With the on-going racial climate that we are in, my kids and I wanted to express some of our feelings and thoughts in chalk outside of our house. Not a novice idea, right? Well this morning I hear loud voices outside of my window, so I go outside to see what’s going on. There were three African American city workers outside power washing our chalk expressions/drawing away because a neighbor complained. I had a lot of emotions running through me, but then one of the gentlemen said “Miss I don’t really want to have to do this, but my boss told be that I have to do it.” Then I felt sad for them, they were forced to remove a Dr. King quote and children’s artwork because a neighbor felt someway about it (angry, threatened… who knows). If it were flowers and sunshine drawings would she have complained?  Today, I feel like an outsider, but this outsider stands by her chalk messages “Justice for All”, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Thank you Dr. King for your wise words. #BlackLivesMatter

ARLnow is still awaiting an official statement from Arlington County, which held a Juneteenth Peace Rally in front of county government headquarters in Courthouse this morning. (Update at 9:15 a.m.: The county issued an apology last night.)

Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey told ARLnow that he is disturbed by the incident and awaiting more information on what happened. In the meantime, he offered an apology to the residents.

“We await a full understanding of the facts, but what is known at the moment disturbs us greatly,” Dorsey said. “It was a mistake to prioritize responding to this call during a pandemic where our workers should not be deployed unnecessarily. Furthermore, removal of the chalk art from a driveway apron, widely known to be the responsibility of the resident, was wrong.”

Read More

0 Comments

Hundreds of union members are expected to participate in a caravan from Ballston to the U.S. Capitol around lunchtime Wednesday.

The Workers First Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice is being organized by a number of major labor organizations. Participants will be gathering at the Ballston public parking garage at 627 N. Glebe Road — plus a second staging site in Silver Spring, Maryland — to affix signs to their vehicles. At 11:45 a.m., they will drive to and circle the Capitol building in D.C.

“More than one thousand union members will travel to Washington, D.C. for the Workers First Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice, the headline event of a massive national mobilization with hundreds of actions calling for bold policies to confront the three crises facing America: a public health pandemic, an economic free fall and long-standing structural racism,” organizers said in a statement.

“Representing those employed in health care, public education, public service, hospitality and more, workers will call on lawmakers to act now to save our nation, save our economy and save workers’ lives,” the statement continues. “The Workers First Caravan is organized by AFSCME, AFT, IUPAT, IBT, UFCW, UNITE HERE and the AFL-CIO.”

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Special County Board Meeting Planned — On Thursday at 6 p.m., the Arlington County Board “will hold a special meeting for a listening session on racial justice, systemic racism and policing. The County Board special meeting will be conducted using electronic means.” [Arlington County]

County Commissions Still Mostly Inactive — “Faced with a growing rebellion over the lack of meetings by Arlington government advisory panels, County Board members and top staff on June 13 offered (slightly defensive) apologies – but not much of a roadmap forward. Board members were responding to a June 9 letter sent to them by 25 chairs of advisory groups, complaining that the local government has been lagging in re-starting meetings that largely have been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March.” [InsideNova]

Pandemic Affects College Plans — From a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday: “The struggle extends to those already in college who are laboring to pay tuition and are weighed down by debt like 20-year-old Katherine Trejo of Arlington, Virginia. The daughter of a single mom from Bolivia, Katherine was supposed to graduate from George Mason next year. She is the first person in her family to attend college.” [CBS News]

Summer School Registration Underway — “Registration for distance learning secondary summer school is underway. Elementary students who qualify to participate in the Elementary Summer Learning Program will automatically be registered by APS.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Guilty Plea in Case Involving Arlington Company — “A former Arlington business executive pleaded guilty today to embezzling nearly $8 million that was intended to settle claims by children who alleged they were victims of medical malpractice. According to court documents, Joseph E. Gargan, 59, of Round Hill, was the Chief Executive Office of the Pension Company, Inc., an Arlington business that would execute settlement agreements entered into between civil litigants.” [Dept. of Justice]

ARLnow Operating Remotely — Since the first confirmed local coronavirus case in March, ARLnow’s employees have been working from home. We plan to continue working remotely until 2021, and may continue to have most employees work remotely most of the time after that. [Washingtonian]

0 Comments

Arlington citizens and community activists flooded Saturday’s online County Board meeting with calls to reform the Arlington County Police Department.

At the start of the public hearing on June 13, County Board Chair Libby Garvey emphasized that the Board’s rules state there could only be one speaker on any given topic or stance, but that’s not now the public comment portion panned out as dozens of speakers rallied to argue against policies activists said were still deeply rooted in the County’s history of segregation.

Yolande Kwinana, founder of a newly formed group called Arlington for Justice, followed up on an earlier discussion with Police Chief Jay Farr by bringing many of the concerns about policies and funding to the County Board.

Kwinana highlighted the demands of a campaign called 8cantwait and urged the county to move forward with the implementation of body cameras and citizen review panels with the power to subpoena the police.

“Invest in our community over law enforcement be reallocating resources to community programs and mental health services,” Kwinana.

Other demands included removing School Resource Officers from middle and high schools in Arlington.

Garvey responded that many of Kwinana’s suggested reforms were already in place, without specifying which ones, and tried to move forward but was immediately confronted with more public speakers discussing police reform. Daniel Weir, a member of the Planning Commission, tried to speak about police reform but was cut off by Garvey, who told him to save his comments for another occasion.

County Board member Christian Dorsey suggested a compromise of allowing speakers like Weir to discuss specific facets of reform rather than a broad call for changes to policing.

“The underlying problem isn’t the bad apples, it’s not specific to policing,” Weir said. “[Racism] spreads like mycelium into every decision. Any institution that doesn’t actively resist these things will [have racism] affect decisions. We must be required to take anti-racism training and memorialize the racial impact of every action.”

Other speakers challenged the Arlington County Police Department’s past use of deadly against people in a mental crisis or said the department should do more to require and codify de-escalation techniques.

“We can make Arlington safer by adopting specific rules,” said Wells Harrell. “Eight can’t wait. I call on this Board to put it on the agenda for the next meeting and vote yes.”

During the County Board’s discussion after the meeting, Board members thanked the speakers but also discussed being in a difficult situation of recognizing the concerns without vilifying the police — who are already in the spotlight after participating in the removal of protestors from Lafayette Square earlier this month.

“Judge people by what they do,” Garvey said. “We’re not perfect, we need to get better, but our police are working very hard and to see them swept up into this national narrative is a little painful for us and for them. But yet, people are pointing out some areas where we need to improve and to make sure people are comfortable.”

Garvey said the County Board will work to put together a public forum about proposed reforms for the police department.

“We want [this moment] to turn into a movement,” Dorsey said. “I hope for sustained activism beyond today.”

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Black Lives Matter Protest Held Saturday — “As protests continue around the nation following the death of George Floyd, the Black Parents of Arlington group welcomed families and neighbors on Saturday for a special gathering and vigil for the man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May. Over 100 people gathered at Drew Model Elementary School, some bringing signs while others wore shirts and face masks showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.” [WUSA 9]

Dorsey Discusses ‘Defund’ Demands — “‘We’re getting a lot of letters with the ‘defund the police’ calls,’ says [County Board member Christian Dorsey, on the WAMU Politics Hour]. He says that over the past few years, the police budget has only risen slightly above inflation. He said he’d be open to cutting tactical weapons and gear.” [Twitter]

Pentagon Entering ‘Phase 1’ Today — “Pentagon and Pentagon Facilities Employees: This Mon., June 15, begins Phase One of re-entering the buildings. Welcome back! Don’t forget your face covering and to social distance while inside.” [Twitter]

Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall — “Fewer than 1,000 Virginians are now hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, and the number of cases continued to slow both statewide and in Northern Virginia, according to reports Saturday morning. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported only 959 coronavirus patients in state hospitals, the lowest number since the organization began providing data in early April… Only 342 of those patients were in Northern Virginia, down from a high of 818 on April 30.” [InsideNova]

County Expanding Free Wi-Fi Spots — “Arlington residents can now access free Wi-Fi in the parking lots of the Charles Drew Community Center and Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center as part of the County’s ongoing effort to help residents without reliable internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with these two new locations, public Wi-Fi is available via the ArlingtonWireless network in the parking lots at Aurora Hills, Central and Columbia Pike libraries.” [Arlington County]

PTAs to Distribute Face Masks — “County staff from a variety of departments packing up more than 4,300 cloth face covers for [Arlington Public Schools] PTAs to distribute to families. Face covering is required in Virginia public indoor spaces. ” [Twitter]

Restaurants Seek Expanded Outdoor Dining Spaces — “Arlington County has allowed 19 restaurants to add new space for outdoor dining or expand existing options, as part of the growing trend of shifting tables outside and allowing safer dining while the Covid-19 pandemic persists… Through June 9, the county has seen a total of 66 applications and approved just under a third of them.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy Jean and James Knaack

0 Comments

In the midst of an uptick of activism in Arlington, both current and former students of Arlington Public Schools are calling for reforms to the school system.

Sparsh Srivastava, a 2016 graduate from H-B Woodlawn, has gathered over 750 signatures on a Change.org petition launched earlier this week asking APS to offer a racial education elective course for high schoolers to take as a social studies credit.

According to the petition, the course would be “a discussion-based, socratic format,” that would “discuss systemic racism by examining Jim Crow minstrel shows and segregation, burning of Black Wall Street, generational wealth accumulation,” and more.

“Thinking back on my time at H-B, I received little to no racial education, especially on topics such as affirmative action and systematic racism,” said Srivastava, who has been in contact with APS teachers who expressed interest in creating a “mock,” or trial-run of the course, for the 2020-21 school year.

Srivastava has also reached out to APS Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Arron Gregory in hopes the petition will ” gain enough traction to convince the APS administration of its value.”

The second Change.org petition, authored by Rosie Couture and Belan Yeshigeta, two current sophomores at Washington-Liberty High School, calls for APS to address its education inequities. It currently has more than 450 signatures with a goal of 500.

After reviewing the data from Arlington’s 2019 Community Report, Couture and Yeshigeta’s made a list of demands for APS including:

  • Meaningful implicit bias and cultural competency training for APS staff and students
  • A zero-tolerance policy for white supremacy
  • A transparent disciplinary policy that collects and reports disciplinary actions based on age, race, and gender, and limit the types out-of-school suspension
  • A disciplinary policy that includes student participation and oversight
  • A Restorative Justice program for APS that “will address the school-to-prison pipeline and give students the skills they need to properly address conflict”
  • And the elimination of the police department’s School Resource Officer program and redirected resources to fund more school social workers and school psychologists

“We see Arlington as a utopian, progressive county, and while the County and School Board does provide us with a lot of resources, we shouldn’t gloss over change that still needs to happen,” said Yeshigeta.

The pair plan on reaching out to the Arlington County Board and have created an action pledge for APS teachers to take. According to Couture, 54 teachers have signed on, and the list will eventually be publicized to students.

APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said the school system has seen both petitions and applauds “students for seeking change.” APS will be hosting a virtual forum on June 22 to further conversation, he said.

The full statement from Bellavia is below.

We have seen both petitions and applaud students for seeking change. We acknowledge the anger and hurt that our APS community and the nation are experiencing, especially our African American community. APS strives to celebrate the differences of all our students and strongly condemns violence and racism.

As Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and School Board Chair Tannia Talento stated in their June 2 letter to the community, APS pledges to continue the work started prior to the school closures to better educate and train our leaders and staff to tackle systemic bias and inequities, that have led to opportunity gaps and disproportionality in discipline. A first step in this work is to hold a virtual conversation on June 22. This will be the first in a series of conversations with our students, staff and community.

Photo via Change.org

0 Comments

The Arlington branch of the NAACP has thrown its voice into the push for body-worn cameras to be implemented in the Arlington County Police Department.

A Change.org petition calling for Arlington County leadership to prioritize body-worn cameras sits at 2,409 of its 2,500 goal at the time of writing.

“Arlington is the only jurisdiction of size in the entire DC-region without a Body-Worn Camera (BWC) program,” Arlington Branch NAACP #7047 said in the petition. “As leaders, we must prioritize programs that encourage public confidence in our government.”

The NAACP said in the petition that body-worn cameras:

  • Assist with collection of evidence
  • Enhance transparency, public trust and confidence
  • Provide the best evidence of police/public interactions
  • De-escalate situations

“We must implore our elected leaders in Arlington County to prioritize appropriate funding for the BWC program,” the NAACP said. “Removing programs that are non-essential, ineffective, or which disproportionately target minorities can generate funding for BWCs and support community resources. Additionally, exorbitant funding from Amazon could be immediately reallocated to fund 100% implementation of BWCs.”

The petition has attracted the attention of some local leadership who expressed support.

“I am writing in support of your efforts urging Arlington County to implement a Body-Worn Camera program,” Del. Patrick Hope said in a letter. “While I was aware that these devices are widely deployed throughout the United States, it came as a complete surprise to learn that Arlington County remains the only jurisdiction of size in the D.C.-region without a functioning Body-Worn Camera program.”

Neighboring Alexandria, which has a population roughly two-thirds that of Arlington, also has no body camera program for police officers, after a planned pilot program sat delayed for years due to budgetary concerns. Fairfax County began implementing body cameras in the first quarter of 2020. Body camera footage recently led to a Fairfax County officer being charged with assault.

“These devices help strengthen police accountability, improve agency transparency, reduce use of force incidents, reduce citizen complaints against officers, and help solve crime,” Hope said. “This technology also has proven to produce significant savings in time and expense for communities as both complaints and cases are resolved much faster using body-worn camera evidence.”

Hope wrote another letter to County Board Chair Libby Garvey urging the County to consider creating a body-worn camera program.

Efforts to implement body-worn camera programs on a local level could be stalled by legislation approved earlier this year that would require localities to follow policy and standards yet to be laid out by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Arlington Chief of Police Jay Farr also recently said that costs are a major hurdle for the implementation of body cameras.

“It’s extremely expensive,” Farr said in an interview with local Black Lives Matter organizer Yolande Kwinana last week. “The County Board, after getting all the facts, made the decision not to fund them.”

Farr said the total for the first year of using the body cameras was $2.5 million, which he attributes primarily to regulations requiring departments to retain terabytes of data for years, in addition to the cost of new full-time employees to manage the data and the cost of the cameras themselves.

Body-worn cameras could be a tough sell for a county still reeling from the financial cost of the COVID-19 shutdown.

“While I recognize all localities are struggling due to the financial impact of COVID-19, as leaders we must prioritize programs which encourage public confidence in our government,” Hope said. “It is my belief that a fully-funded body-worn camera program would do just that.”

Part of the NAACP petition also included a call for the implementation of a civilian review board of the police department with subpoena power, something for which Farr had earlier expressed some support.

“We must implement this technology and civilian oversight to protect citizens from police brutality and enforce accountability,” the NAACP said. “This is a humanitarian crisis that should be acted upon now to end racial injustice and improve equity in our criminal justice system. Our demand for compliance and accountability from law enforcement will not go unheard.”

0 Comments

Nazis picket Arlington, VA civil rights sit-in: 1960

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlingtonians are marching in the streets protesting for racial justice, but 60 years ago that fight took the form of sit-ins at Arlington lunch counters.

This day in 1960 marked the start of a series of demonstrations that remained peaceful despite harassment by local white students, police, and Neo-Nazis. The sit-ins went on for 13 days and were a pivotal moment in local civil rights history.

“On June 9, 1960, just after 1 p.m., about a dozen people walked into the People’s Drug Store at 4709 Lee Highway in Cherrydale and began what would become a peaceful County-wide demonstration for the right of all people to be served at what had historically been white-only lunch counters,” Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program said. “Although African Americans could patronize stores as clientele, employees refused to serve customers of color at the lunch counters within the stores.”

The Historic Preservation Program said other shoppers, including local students, harassed the protestors. A group of members of the Arlington-based American Nazi Party, led by George Rockwell, also showed up and were photographed harassing the protestors while wearing swastika armbands.

Images from the sit-ins showed black protestors sitting at the counter while white counter-protesters marched behind them with signs bearing racist slogans and images. The police were called but made no arrests, and the protestors left when the drug stores closed at 10 p.m.

Confrontation at the Cherrydale Drug Fair Counter: 1960

The next day, police arrested one of the leaders of the protests, Lawrence Henry, allegedly for driving without glasses or proper tags. Protestors returned to stores the next day even though the lunch counters had been closed.

“Protesters arrive around noon at the People’s Drug Store on Lee Highway, the Drug Fair at 5401 Lee Highway, the Howard Johnson restaurant at 4700 Lee Highway, and the Drug Fair at 3815 Lee Highway around noon,” wrote the Historic Preservation Program. “All lunch counters are closed, and eventually crowds, largely of high school students, gather to harass the demonstrators. At the Drug Fair at 3815 Lee Highway, George Rockwell and some uniformed followers try to provoke the protesters. Then, however, police required the Neo-Nazis and the ensuing crowd of over 100 to leave, allowing the protesters to remain.”

That evening, demonstrators announced a temporary halt to the protests for negotiations to take place, after which the heads of People’s Drug and Drug Fair said they would be willing to discuss mediation.

Arlington County government did not intervene, saying that store owners had the right to decline service. The sit-ins continued on June 18, and by June 22 some of the stores that had initially discriminated against black customers started to change their position.

The F.W. Woolworth store in Shirlington announced that patrons would be served indiscriminately and on June 22 an integrated group of protestors were served at the counter. The next day, 21 lunch counters opened to black patrons, including several where the protests had started.

“We remember and honor the 20 determined individuals who took a stand against unfair, discriminatory practices,” the Historic Preservation Program said. “Their bravery helped change Arlington, Alexandria, and surrounding localities, and brought about an important and visible step toward desegregating our community. They inspire us today in our ongoing efforts to achieve racial equity.”

Counter Closed During Sit-In: Arlington, Virginia: 1960

Photos via Washington Area Spark/Flickr

0 Comments

Protests over the death of George Floyd and others killed at the hands of police have sparked a debate: should police budgets be cut and the money re-allocated to social services?

The “defund the police” movement has been a particularly hot topic on social media, where some proponents have shared charts showing police budgets in U.S. cities dwarfing other expenditures, including education. The charts are misleading, though, according to fact checks — while police budgets are indeed significant, they are smaller than expenditures on schools.

In Arlington, the police department budget in the just-passed Fiscal Year 2021 budget, which takes effect on July 1, is $74.7 million. That’s 5.3% of the overall Arlington County government general fund of $1.4 billion. The police budget is one-ninth the size of the $670 million Arlington Public Schools budget passed last month.

By comparison to another locality of note, the ACPD budget — which rose from $72.1 million in the prior fiscal year — is just over a third of the police budget for the city of Minneapolis, where major changes to the police department are being formulated in response to the killing of Floyd by its officers. The city’s population is 429,606, compared to Arlington County’s population of 235,000.

The police department is one of the larger line items in Arlington County’s budget, and is just one component of Arlington’s overall public safety and law enforcement expenditures. It is, however, not the biggest single department in the budget: both the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services and Dept. of Human Services have budgets over $100 million.

Here are a few selected line items from the county budget:

  • $147.6 million — Dept. of Human Services (social services, health department, housing)
  • $110.9 million — Dept. of Environmental Services (road maintenance, water infrastructure, waste collection)
  • $103.7 million — Utilities
  • $75.0 million — Debt service
  • $74.7 million — Police department
  • $68.5 million — Fire department
  • $47.6 million — Sheriff’s office (county jail, court security)
  • $17.7 million — Courts, prosecutor’s office, public defenders
  • $13.8 million — Public safety communication and emergency management

The police department investigates thousands of crimes annually and last year faced 36 external complaints about police conduct.

0 Comments

Following a week filled with marches and protests in Arlington, at least two more events are planned today.

One of the events is being organized by a pair of groups that largely serve the immigrant community. Another is being organized by four churches and a local civic association. Both events are being held to demand justice and to defend black lives.

The first is being from 5-6 p.m. along Wilson Blvd in the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods. From a press release:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 9th, four congregations will come together in Arlington in a witness for justice on behalf of black lives.   The action will be centered along Wilson Boulevard on Tuesday, June 9th, from 5-6pm.

We will park and gather at the Arlington Community Church (6040 Wilson Boulevard) before moving to Wilson Boulevard at 5 pm.

We wish to observe safe social distancing so we will be standing six feet apart along Wilson Boulevard in silent witness, simply holding up signs of support from 5 pm to 6 pm. We ask that everyone wear facemasks and that every effort be made to maintain social distancing.

Hosted by the members of Boulevard Manor Civic Association, Arlington Church of the Brethren, Bethel United Church of Christ, Arlington Community Church, and Rock Spring United Church of Christ.

“We recognize the pervasive sin of white supremacy as something that people with privilege benefit from or participate in daily,” the organizers quoted from a recent Arlington Interfaith Network statement. “Communities of spirituality and faith with privilege need to use their place to have sacred conversations on race, and work for real change.”

At 7 p.m. tonight, La ColectiVA and Tenants and Workers United will hold a rally — dubbed Cacerolazo for Black Lives — in Arlington’s Tyrol Hill Park (5101 7th Road S.), in memory of George Floyd and others.

From an event description:

Join us for a Cacerolazo (pots and pans rally) for Black Lives – Tuesday, June 9 at 7pm. This rally will be in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and demands for accountability for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless others who have lost their lives to white supremacy and police violence, including here in Virginia.

We’ll gather at Tyrol Hill Park, Tuesday at 7PM.

Please:
-Wear a face covering
-Maintain physical distancing
-Bring your pots and pans
-Bring signs that say #BlackLivesMatter #DefundPolice #DefendBlackLives #InvestInCommunities

0 Comments

(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) With the nation’s attention turned to police misconduct following the murder of George Floyd and the mass protests that have followed, a recent report details an uptrend in use of force by and complaints against the Arlington County Police Department.

The 2019 Annual Report from ACPD’s Office of Professional Responsibility says that complaints against police personnel rose 55% between 2018 and 2019, after falling for at least three straight years. Reported use of force incidents rose 72% during the same time period.

A majority of the complaints were “internally generated” within the police department.

“OPR processed ninety (90) personnel complaints/administrative investigations; which included one-hundred forty-six (146) allegations,” the report states. “Fifty-four (54 or 60%) internally generated. Thirty-six (36 or 40%) externally generated. An additional forty-four (44) external complaints were addressed informally by OPR.”

A police spokeswoman acknowledged the increase in complaints in a statement to ARLnow, but said the total was with the “normal range.”

“The Office of Professional Responsibility investigated 90 personnel complaints in 2019. While this was an increase of 32 from the 58 investigations conducted in 2018, the number remains within normal range of the five year trend, and below the peak number of investigations conducted in 2015,” said ACPD’s Kirby Clark. “The increased volume in personnel complaints is primarily related to an increase in Personal Contacts type complaints. 33 Personal Contacts type complaints were generated in 2019, compared to the 14 complaints generated in 2018. Personal Contacts type complaints are comprised of complaints made by a member of the public regarding an interaction they have with an officer.”

Forty internally-generated complaints, or about 74%, were “sustained” and found to have merit. Only one external complaint, or 3% of those submitted, was sustained.

“There were five (5) allegations of racially-biased policing which were investigated and unfounded,” notes the report.

Most of the sustained complaints involved use of police vehicles, including 36 related to traffic collisions in which police personnel were found to be at fault. Four involved conduct unbecoming an officer.

No officers were fired, but five were suspended between 4-100 hours, the report says.

ACPD investigates thousands of reported crimes over the course of a year, and serves a population of around 235,000.

As of 2018, ACPD had 353 officers, 82% of which were white, 11% black, and 3% Asian. That year, a county-commissioned community survey found that 86% of residents were satisfied or very satisfied with the “overall quality of local police service.”

Read More

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list