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Arlington police officers defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo via Tyler Merbler/Flickr)

Arlington is getting reimbursed by the federal government for lending officers to security details around the U.S. Capitol.

The Arlington County Police Department provided about 50 tactical officers to U.S. Capitol Police during the recent State of the Union address on March 1. Under a Memorandum of Understanding with USCP, approved by the County Board in November after another mutual aid deployment, ACPD will provide officers to assist at the Capitol when necessary and the costs of the deployment will be reimbursed.

At its Saturday meeting, the Board approved the federal reimbursement for ACPD’s security assistance on March 1 and gave County Manager Mark Schwartz the authority to accept future reimbursements, up to $50,000 per day of aid.

More from a report to the County Board:

The Police Department is an active member, throughout the region, in providing mutual aid assistance. This effort allows for the appropriate utilization of resources both within and outside of the County. Our commitment to regional partnerships greatly enhances the safety and well-being of the citizenry.

The Police Department was requested to provide mutual aid resources to the United States Capitol Police to assist with the security of the Capitol building and grounds for the State of the Union address on March 1, 2022. The Tactical Operations Section provided approximately 50 members of the Police Department as tactical resources. The Police Department is utilizing the above referenced MOU to obtain reimbursement for related costs incurred for the deployment.

Delegation of the County Board’s authority to accept reimbursement of funds from the United States Capitol Police to the County Manager up to and including $50,000 per day of mutual aid rendered for future deployments would improve the efficiency in receiving reimbursement of funds.

Previously, Arlington officers in riot gear helped to defend the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Last month an Arlington man was arrested for his alleged role in the pro-Trump riots and violence at the Capitol.

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Members of the Oath Keepers militia group used the Comfort Inn in Ballston as a weapons cache during the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to new details released by federal prosecutors.

Militia members brought “firearms, ammunition, and related items” to the hotel in advance of Jan. 6, federal prosecutors say. Some details of the hotel’s unwitting role in the insurrection were previously reported. Surveillance photos from the hotel show large gun cases being wheeled in on luggage carts.

Indictments against militia members for “seditious conspiracy,” unsealed last week, outline how some militia members stayed outside of D.C. that day, awaiting orders to transport weapons to the city. They used encrypted chat apps and ham radios to communicate, federal prosecutors said.

“While certain Oath Keepers members and affiliates breached the Capitol grounds and building, others remained stationed just outside of the city in quick reaction force (QRF) teams,” said a Justice Department press release. “According to the indictment, the QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”

In one indictment, the Comfort Inn, located along N. Glebe Road near the entrance to I-66, is referred to by militia members as the “QRF hotel.” It was apparently not the only one. The indictment also shows militia members discussing “several well equipped QRFs outside DC.”

Oath Keeper member and Phoenix resident Edward Vallejo, who is among those charged with seditious conspiracy, was one of the people who stayed behind in Ballston while violence at the Capitol raged, prosecutors say. From the indictment:

Vallejo and others were on standby at the Comfort Inn Ballston, monitoring communications from the co-conspirators on the ground inside Washington, D.C., and awaiting a call to bring the weapons to the co-conspirators.

[…]

At 2:38 p.m., Vallejo messaged the Leadership Signal Chat, “QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word…”

That night, as Congress resumed its counting of the electoral votes, Vallejo and other militia members “met at a restaurant in Vienna, Virginia to celebrate their attack on the Capitol and discuss next steps,” according to federal prosecutors. There’s no indication that the weapons ever left the hotel that day.

There is also no word in Justice Department filings about potential militia activities elsewhere in Arlington. ARLnow previously reported on a group of 8 to 10 men who gathered at the Iwo Jima memorial with communication equipment while the Capitol was attacked, but there is no indication that any of them has been accused of a crime.

Vallejo is being held in custody pending a detention hearing this week, the Washington Post reported.

Photo via Google Maps

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Virginia State Police vehicle (photo by John Calhoun/JC Photography)

As its police force shrinks, the Arlington County Police Department is leaning on state police when extra officers are needed to maintain its nightlife detail.

Virginia State Police troopers will be helping Arlington fill staffing holes in the local nightlife team that works with bars and restaurants in Clarendon and Crystal City to keep establishments and patrons safe and to help keep order when things get out of hand.

The number of acting police officers available to staff ACPD’s various divisions has dropped amid retirements, reports of low morale, and attrition to more lucrative and less demanding private-industry jobs. In response, ACPD has turned to VSP troopers who are willing to help out with the nightlife detail, according to the county.

This past weekend the County Board approved a mutual aid agreement between the two forces that codifies compensation for troopers.

The agreement will help keep staffing for the detail steady, not add to it, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

“The overall staffing for the Nightlife detail is remaining the same,” she said via email, adding that ACPD does not disclose the specific number of officers. “The MOU with [VSP] provides ACPD the option of utilizing troopers to fill vacancies in the Nightlife detail, when necessary. The department began exploring additional staffing resources for the Nightlife detail in September 2021 due to a reduction in ACPD’s functional staffing.”

As part of the memorandum, troopers will be reimbursed at an overtime rate for their hours worked as well as for vehicle mileage. The county will also pay a 10% fee to VSP for “administrative and accounting costs associated with the provided services,” the report said.

The detail patrols spots in Clarendon and Crystal City as part of the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI), which was founded in 2016 to tackle alcohol-related crimes in Clarendon and has since expanded to Crystal City.

Through ARI — in which police patrol area bars, train employees and meet with businesses — Clarendon’s crime rates have dropped, according to the county. The detail also looks out for misbehaving bar patrons, who can be banned from all establishments that participate in Arlington’s Bar Safe program as a result of public drunkenness or more serious crimes.

Between January and September, there have been 32 Bar Safe violations, according to Arlington police data. Rates peaked in the summer, when bars fully reopened, as did the number of fake IDs. The detail confiscated 572 fake IDs during the same time period.

While many alcohol-related crimes dropped from 2019 to 2020 due to COVID-related business closures, the detail has noticed the nightlife crowd increasing every month since the state reopened, according to a monthly police report.

With that, new safety problems have arisen: last month, there were six reports of spiked drink in Clarendon and Crystal City bars.

The collaboration between ACPD and VSP was not the only agreement that received County Board approval. On Saturday, the Board approved a mutual aid agreement with U.S. Capitol Police after 50 Arlington officers helped secure the U.S. Capitol building during the “Justice for J6” rally this fall.

The rally on Sept. 18. was held in support of those charged after the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by a large pro-Trump mob. It was widely reported as a flop that did not draw the expected crowds while still costing government agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The county says both of these mutual aid agreements exemplify ACPD’s commitment to regional partnerships.

“The Police Department is an active member, throughout the region, in providing mutual aid assistance,” a county staff report said. “This effort allows for the appropriate utilization of resources both within and outside of the County. Our commitment to regional partnerships greatly enhances the safety and well-being of the citizenry.”

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Arlington County police in riot gear outside of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (via YouTube)

The Arlington County Police Department has been asked to assist U.S. Capitol Police with security during a planned rally this weekend.

The “Justice for J6” rally, which being held in support of those charged after the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by a large pro-Trump mob, is set to take place Saturday at noon on the west side of the Capitol grounds.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed to ARLnow Wednesday evening that the department has received a mutual aid request to provide additional security at the Capitol on Saturday.

“The Arlington County Police Department has received a request from the United States Capitol Police Department to provide assistance for planned events September 18, 2021, in Washington D.C.,” Savage said. “Arlington County Police will honor this request and provide officers to assist our regional law enforcement partners in maintaining peace and order in the event of a significant disturbance or unrest.”

“Inter-agency partnerships are an important tool in ensuring public safety during large scale events and our top priority remains ensuring the safety of residents, businesses and visitors of the region,” Savage added. She declined to say how many officers will be sent to the District, saying ACPD does not reveal information that is “tactical in nature.”

The National Guard has also been asked to be ready to send troops, if necessary, and a temporary fence was just erected around the Capitol complex to prevent a possible repeat of the January attack.

Arlington police in riot gear previously assisted at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department later presented its Ribbon of Valor to 65 Arlington cops and firefighters who responded to the District on that day.

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Morning Notes

Jan. 6 First Responders Recognized — “The Arlington County Board today gave special honors and recognition to members of Arlington County Police Department, Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office for their efforts to respond to the Capitol riot on January 6. Approximately 60 personnel were honored during the event today at the County Board Recessed meeting.” [Arlington County]

Fmr. APS Students Staying in Private School — “Ten-year-old Jonah Kaufman of Arlington is proud of his 4th grade report card from the private school he attends in northern Virginia… it was a far different story in 2020 when Jonah and his 8-year-old brother, Noah, were in a public school, trying to learn from home during COVID-19. ‘They weren’t learning,’ Jena Kotler, the boy’s mother says. ‘They were sad, they felt isolated. It was just crazy.'” [WJLA]

Man Pulls BB Gun on Beer Thief — “At approximately 11:32 p.m. on July 19, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force… the male victim was walking in the area when the suspect approached and engaged him in conversation. When the victim walked away, the suspect began chasing after him. The victim fell to the ground and the suspect demanded the beer he was carrying. After the suspect took the beer, the victim retrieved a BB gun from his vehicle and confronted the suspect.” [ACPD]

Sluggish Fundraising in County Board Race — “The four candidates for County Board had a total of less than $14,000 on hand at the end of June, according to new figures from the Virginia Department of Elections. That’s not an average of $14,000 per candidate. It’s $14,000 for all candidates. Takis Karantonis, the incumbent board member… reported $5,301 on hand as of June 30, according to filings made public July 15. Audrey Clement, a frequent candidate for political office, reported $3,286.” [Sun Gazette]

New Capital Improvement Plan Approved — “The Arlington County Board has approved a $1.25 billion three-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that focuses on meeting Arlington’s existing commitments, addressing critical infrastructure maintenance, and beginning investments in long-term plans and programs that will ensure sustainability over the years to come.” [Arlington County]

Air Quality Alert Today — “A Code Orange Air Quality Alert means that air pollution concentrations within the region may become unhealthy for sensitive groups. Sensitive groups include children, people suffering from asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases and the elderly. The effects of air pollution can be minimized by avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors.” [National Weather Service, Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

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Sixty-five Arlington County police officers and firefighters have been recognized for their help defending the U.S. Capitol when a pro-Trump mob stormed it on Jan. 6.

The honor was announced in a tweet posted Monday by the Arlington County Police Department.

“On May 11, [five] members of ACPD accepted the Ribbon of Valor on behalf of the ACPD officers who responded to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 and assisted Metropolitan Police Department under a mutual aid agreement,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The ribbons were distributed to those officers last week.”

The event was hosted by D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, Savage said. Chief of Police Robert J. Contee III presented the awards to Captain Quigley, Corporal Gilkes, Corporal Woolley, Corporal Olson and Lieutenant Troyano of the police department and Lieutenant Nathan Waterfall of the Arlington County Fire Department.

The officers “assisted our regional law enforcement partners in restoring and maintaining peace and order,” Savage said.

Similar honors were provided to other local law enforcement agencies, including Prince George’s County Police Department and the Montgomery County Department of Police.

A video taken on the day of the insurrection shows ACPD officers in riot gear defending the U.S. Capitol alongside Virginia State Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police, keeping an agitated crowd at bay.

Not pictured was fire department spokesman Taylor Blunt, who said he also received the award on behalf of ACFD. Blunt and Waterfall were the only paramedics present on the Capitol steps during the riot, treating and triaging injured law enforcement officers and attackers alike, the Associated Press reported, citing documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

From the AP:

Two firefighters loaned to Washington for the day were the only medics on the Capitol steps Jan. 6, trying to triage injured officers as they watched the angry mob swell and attack police working to protect Congress.

Law enforcement agents were “being pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters,” wrote Arlington County firefighter Taylor Blunt in an after-action memo. Some couldn’t walk, and had to be dragged to safety.

Even the attackers sought medical help, and Blunt and his colleague Nathan Waterfall treated those who were passing out or had been hit. But some “feigned illness to remain behind police lines,” Blunt wrote.

Other specific heroics of Arlington public safety personnel have yet to be revealed. Savage said “there are no additional details to provide at this time” because the events of the day remain an active FBI investigation.

Photos via ACPD/Twitter

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A Wakefield High School student’s digital photo titled “Shadows of Democracy” will be featured in the U.S. Capitol.

Charlie Williams, a senior, noted that he took the digital photo of a reflection in a puddle just weeks before rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“This is a reflection of the U.S. Capitol after a rainstorm,” Williams said, as quoted in a news release. “I was able to capture the detail in the Capitol Dome through the puddle and tried to convey the emotions in the image.”

Williams said his photo represents “an alternate reality which serves as a premonition of what the government can become if democracy falls.”

A panel with the National Art Education Association chose his artwork among dozens of entries for the Congressional Art Competition in Virginia’s 8th District, Rep. Don Beyer said in the same news release.

“Our nation is still grappling with the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War, and many of the issues raised by the attack on the Capitol still remain unresolved,” Beyer said. “I hope ‘Shadows Of Democracy’ will remind my fellow Members of Congress that our nation continues to wrestle with what happened here, and that our votes and actions reverberate through history.”

It will be displayed in the Cannon House Office Building tunnel, Beyer said, also noting that Williams is the second winner in a row from Wakefield after Kidus Sebil’s photo won the competition in 2020.

Photo courtesy office of Rep. Don Beyer

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