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From 2019 until 2022, there were no reported juvenile overdoses on Arlington Public Schools grounds. In the first six weeks of 2023, there have been three, including one that was fatal.
Meanwhile, drug possession and distribution cases remain lower than they were before school buildings closed during the pandemic, but appear to be on the rise.
The Arlington County Police Department, which provided the data in response to a FOIA request by ARLnow, says factors that could have impacted the number of reported cases possession and distribution cases include Covid-related school closures and legislative changes.
State statute was modified so that school principals were only required to report to law enforcement possible felony drug possession cases, such as possession of oxycodone or Adderall without a prescription.
The data seems to suggest drug use on school grounds is rising, as is the possession of substances that carry felony charges. These emerging trends were thrown into relief last week when a student was found unconscious at Wakefield High School, and later died at the hospital of an apparent drug overdose. Four other students that day were evaluated and dispatches for possible overdoses continued into the next week.
While parents have been concerned about opioids since kids returned to school following the pandemic closures, the events of last week prompted a parent march and a School Board work session on opioids. During the School Board meeting — complete with a demonstration of the overdose reversal drug naloxone — substance abuse counselor Jenny Sexton said her team is most concerned about young people crushing up and smoking illicitly manufactured opioids.
These pills are cheap and can be purchased on social media. Some contain fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine and can only be detected once the pill is taken or if the user has a fentanyl test strip.
School Board members asked administrators what additional steps they are taking to improve school security and increase drug use prevention efforts and substance use recovery support. They also assured those watching they are taking this issue seriously.
“I hope that you hear that we are moving on this, that we feel the sense of urgency and that everyone around this table, and that everyone who is at APS, we see the issue, we feel the fear along with you,” School Board Vice-Chair Cristina Diaz-Torres said, addressing the parents tuning in.
“We understand that that is not acceptable and that there should not be a version of the world where you have to live in fear of your child going to school,” she continued. “We are moving quickly on a lot preventative measures with immediate triage efforts to ensure that our students have what they need in the immediate future.”
(The work session recorded more than 750 listeners — far and away more than any other recent work session and on par with many regularly-scheduled School Board meetings.)
If you missed the School Board Work Session on Opioids & Substance Use in APS: Education & Prevention last night, I encourage you to watch the recording & share it because important info was shared about substance use & the administration of Naloxone. https://t.co/W9s3mqZJu0
— Francisco Duran, Ed.D. (@SuptDuran) February 8, 2023
School Board Chair Reid Goldstein stressed that combating drug use will require a community-wide response consisting of efforts at home and school and from the public.
“As a community, we must stay vigilant and well-informed and work together,” he said. “We have urged [the superintendent] to pursue every avenue to address safety and security issues at the schools by providing proposals to the board for funding consideration. It is through the collaborative actions of staff, parents, the community and students that APS will holistically address the needs of students, families and staff.”
In a statement to ARLnow, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said the County Board agrees with the need for a community-wide response and interventions at home, school and in the county’s neighborhoods.
“We are currently coordinating with our colleagues to see what additional resources and increased support Arlington County can provide to reduce addiction in our community, with a particular focus on youth and a goal that no other family has to experience the tragedy of losing a child to the consequences of substance use,” he said.
There has been a mini-spate of deaths and reported suicide attempts among Arlington Public Schools students in the last month, ARLnow has learned.
A middle schooler died after Christmas and a high schooler died in mid-January, according to sources in the school community.
Medics have been dispatched to Arlington schools a number of times since the end of winter break, for suicide attempts, overdoses and other substance abuse issues among students, according to scanner traffic. In one instance, medics were dispatched twice in one day to the same school for reports of suicide attempts through taking pills.
“Based on anecdotal information — reports from principals and Student Services personnel — we do remain concerned about the needs of our students and how they are handling the multiple impacts to their lives and how those are manifesting themselves in some of their choices, behaviors and statements around mental health,” Darrell Sampson, APS Executive Director of Student Services, tells ARLnow.
He couldn’t comment on specific cases, citing privacy concerns.
These incidents are part of a broader trend upward in mental health needs among children. Sampson says during the 2021-22 school year, APS saw a “significantly higher” number of suicide risk assessments compared with the 2020-21 academic year. Meanwhile, clinicians with Arlington County Dept. of Human Services reported seeing more students exhibiting self-harming behaviors.
Generally, he said, school mental health professionals are seeing students struggling to navigate stressful life experiences because they have fewer past social interactions to draw from due to pandemic-era isolation. APS ended in-person learning in the spring of 2020 and resumed in-person instruction for all students midway through the 2021-22 school year.
“You have kids… who have missed out on years of being able to build those resiliency skills and social-emotional competencies through everyday experiences,” he said. “Now, they’re back in school and they’re experiencing the same things our students have always experienced in school — whether that’s struggles with a class, or with friends, or struggles with everyday experiences — and their bag of skills is just not at all [equipped] and when things happen in our lives that are stressful it can impact them in more intense ways.”
Elizabeth Hughes, the senior director for research at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, tells ARLnow mental health is worsening among children in the entire Northern Virginia region. She will be releasing detailed findings next Wednesday.
Some 37% of public high school students experienced recent symptoms of clinical anxiety and depression last winter and 34% reported past-year persistent sadness, according to her forthcoming report.
One in 10 high schoolers seriously contemplated suicide over the past year, with comparably high rates among middle school students. Just under one in two high school students in the region had past or recent mental health needs.
She says the pandemic only accelerated a longer upward trend in anxiety, persistent worry, sadness and loss of interest among teens.
“The [American Academy of Pediatrics] has declared a national emergency around children’s mental health, but the word ’emergency’ feels so much more ephemeral than what we are seeing,” she said. “More youth than ever need help, yes. But this story is so much bigger than the aftershocks of a pandemic.”
(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) All three candidates looking to replace Sheriff Beth Arthur, who retired at the end of last year, say they have ideas for changing how the jail is run.
They each say their ideas could help save the lives of those detained in jail, which is overseen by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.
In the last seven years, seven men have died while in jail, six of whom were Black, which led the Arlington branch of the NAACP to begin pushing for greater transparency from the office as well as changes to jail operations.
In most cases, the cause of death was ruled to be a “natural cause” — such as heart disease caused by high blood pressure — although opiate withdrawal was a complicating factor in one such case. One man died because of a mix of drugs in his system and another died by suicide.
“I’m concerned because the status quo is not working,” candidate Wanda Younger, who recently retired from the Sheriff’s Office after 31 years of service, said when she announced her campaign to the Arlington County Democratic Committee last week. “I will work with the County Board and state legislators to ensure there is 24-hour mental health and medical care for those detained.”
She later told ARLnow that outcomes would improve at the jail with this 24/7 supervision, as well as new leadership and more deputies on staff. The Sheriff’s Office, like the Arlington County Police Department, has been experiencing attrition that has made it harder for the department to perform basic duties, she says.
“I am committed to changing the lives of the staff, changing the lives of the detainees and changing your lives,” she said in her speech.
Jose Quiroz, who took over as the interim Sheriff yesterday (Monday) after Beth Arthur retired, says he wants to implement biometric screening — something the Sheriff’s Office has been discussing but has yet to purchase.
Inmates in the jail’s infirmary, which consists of 12 beds, would wear devices to monitor their vital signs , notifying staff of a medical emergency such as a substance use withdrawal. Depending on funding, he says, he would eventually like all inmates to wear such devices.
“We’re in 2023, technology is advanced — let’s use that to our advantage,” he tells ARLnow, adding that jails in some less urban, less wealthy jurisdictions from Alabama to Montana are already using this technology.
James Herring, a police officer with Arlington County, says the county should bring medical care in house. He suggested staffing the jail with psychiatrists and therapists who report to the county as well.
“We need to shift from a system that only treats people when something goes wrong to a system that” identifies problems before they arise, he said, adding that the jail should conduct baseline physicals and mental health checks, Herring told us after announcing his candidacy last week.
That may be more expensive, but it would give the Sheriff’s Office “full control and full knowledge” over what’s going on.
“Ms. Arthur started as a budget analyst,” he said. “We got what you’d expect to get when a budget analyst takes over.”
(Updated at 7:30 p.m.) Braylon Meade’s classmates would know he was already seated by whether his basketball shoes were outside the door.
“He’d get up at 5 a.m. and after a workout, go to class at 7:30. Everyone said he would smell horrible. He would leave his shoes outside the classroom because he smelled so bad,” his teammate, James McIntyre, said with a laugh.
Shoes aside, his hustle garnered the admiration of his teammates, who agreed to him being their leader, overseeing drills and shouting out encouragement and direction during games.
“All the kids respected him because of how much work he put in… he worked so hard this summer to compete and play this season’s games,” W-L Head Coach Robert Dobson said. “He became our glue.”
McIntyre, who has known Meade since the third grade, says he was energetic but quick to share the ball. While not the tallest team member, he always ran to guard the opposing team’s best player.
“He went above and beyond to make himself the best athlete that he could be,” said Mark Weiser, a W-L parent who coached Meade in travel basketball. “He was the kind of player that, if you asked him to run through a brick wall, he’d do it and not complain.”
Meade died just before the start of the season this week and before he could show players across the region and state all the work he put in over the summer and fall. The 17-year-old was killed early Friday morning in a car crash, and a teen driver involved in the crash was charged with a DUI and involuntary manslaughter. On Sunday, hundreds of people turned out at the high school for a candlelight vigil organized in his memory.
In the wake of his death, family and community members are finding ways to honor his legacy. This morning (Wednesday), a scholarship fund in his name for Arlington Public Schools alumni went live on the Arlington Community Foundation website.
“The fund will provide need-based scholarships to graduates of Arlington County’s public high schools,” according to the foundation. “Braylon’s siblings, Bryan and Kerry, and his parents firmly believe that this scholarship fund will perpetuate one of Braylon’s passions, which was to lift up those in need.”
His coach is retiring Meade’s jersey number, 22, and before every game, his teammates will carry out the special handshakes he had for every player and hug his parents.
Dobson says he has already noticed teammates stepping up to try to do what Braylon did for the team.
“Kids who never said a word are now leading the huddle and calling out drills,” he said. “Everybody is doing it as a team.”
But Meade was more than just his sport. His friends and coaches tell ARLnow he worked hard off the court, had a sense of humor and a nerdy side. His girlfriend of three years, Christine Wilson, remembers him as a loyal, communicative boyfriend and a great conversationalist.
“He was such a gentleman and always held the door for me, paid for me, drove, and we would get food somewhere and have great conversation as always,” Wilson said. “Our conversations never got boring and we never ran out of things to talk about, even after three years.”
Weiser said Meade was smart, opinionated and enjoyed lively conversations. He watched basketball closely and often had the same insight into a play as a coach would.
“He was right more often than he was wrong,” Weiser said.
Meade tackled academics and basketball with the same intensity. He took all International Baccalaureate classes and tutored teammates if they asked.
“He had the brightest future of all of us, he never did anything wrong and was always there for me,” McIntyre said. “He was the most hardworking dude I knew for sure, whether it was school, basketball, or beating me in ping pong, he would always practice a lot.”
Drunk driving — the alleged reason why a woman was killed in a hit-and-run last month — is on the rise in Arlington.
The fatal crash in the Arlington Heights neighborhood has county leaders considering greater emphasis on curbing drunk driving. Neighbors, meanwhile, are asking the county to add more traffic calming measures to combat risky driving, particularly near Alice West Fleet Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
On Aug. 1, a driver hit Viviana Oxlaj Pérez while she was walking near the Thomas Jefferson Community Center at 3501 2nd Street S. She was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital, where she died.
The Arlington County Police Department arrested Julio David Villazon at his home on Aug. 2 and charged him with involuntary manslaughter, hit and run, driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license.
There has been an uptick in alcohol-involved crashes in Arlington. Last year, ACPD recorded 143 alcohol-involved crashes, up nearly 49% increase from 96 in 2020, according to its 2021 annual report. In 2022, ACPD has recorded 116 alcohol-involved crashes, says police spokesman Ashley Savage.
Driving under the influence is one of the top contributing factors to a “disproportionate” number of critical and fatal crashes in the county, says Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. The others are speeding, turning left at an intersection, turning right across bicycle lanes and failing to yield to pedestrians.
Each of these behaviors is being addressed during an ongoing “Critical Crash Mitigation Campaign” through December.
The recent rise in alcohol-related crashes chips away at what had been a broader downward trend in drunk driving. Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol attributed this initial decrease to efforts, such as the ACPD Arlington Restaurant Initiative and the Washington Region Alcohol Program, as well as the growing popularity of ride-sharing services — which have been getting more expensive.
“Now, however, national trends are indicating major increases in alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the pandemic (regional data is lagging but reasonable inference suggests our local trends may be similar),” Cristol said in an email to ARLnow. “This indicates to me that there is a greater role for the County Board in public education about the threat that drunk driving poses to our own community.”
Cristol said the most important message she can communicate about last month’s crash is that “there is no safe way to drive drunk.”
“In this situation, the driver was impaired, and there is no ‘safe’ BAC above zero to get behind the wheel. Any intersection or roadway — irrespective of the physical safety improvements, visibility interventions, or other designs to the built environment — is unsafe when a drunk driver is present,” she said.
The DUI is Villazon’s second driving offense within the last 10 years, according to court records. He was previously found guilty of “improper driving” in the Arlington General District Court. Under state code, the misdemeanor charge of reckless driving can be knocked down to improper driving if either the judge or the prosecutor find that the offense was not serious.
His next court date is in February 2023.
The crash that killed Oxlaj Pérez is being examined by a broad swath of local agencies, including Arlington’s transportation staff, the police and fire departments, Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services, Virginia State Police and the County Manager’s office.
But neighbors say the problem is not hard to understand. They say drivers, particularly during school drop-off and pick-up times, speed down S. Glebe Road and Arlington Blvd (Route 50), run red lights, roll stop signs, make illegal U-turns, block crosswalks and go the wrong way on 1st Road S., a one-way street — and they’re not drunk.
“I understand the tragedy that occurred a few weeks ago involved alcohol and likely wouldn’t have been prevented with traffic changes,” said one neighbor, Kelly Cherry-Leigh Davison. “But we have brought up these safety issues numerous times to everyone we can think of and are getting nowhere. I’m worried every day another tragedy is going to occur and we could be preventing it.”
(Updated at 11 p.m.) During her 70 year reign, Queen Elizabeth II visited Virginia and Arlington — the cemetery, specifically — on numerous occasions.
Now state and local leaders are remembering the monarch, who died today at age 96.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin released the following statement this afternoon.
Today, we sadly mourn the loss of a transcendent leader, Queen Elizabeth II, who admirably presided over the United Kingdom for over 70 years and was deeply beloved by her people. Throughout her reign, she showed steadfast compassion towards the United States during trying times, especially following the September 11th attacks. Virginians fondly remember Queen Elizabeth II’s many visits to the Commonwealth of Virginia including in 1957 for the Jamestown anniversary, 1976 for the U.S. Bicentennial celebration and 1991 to Arlington National Cemetery. Her most recent trip in 2007 when she visited the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond, Jamestown’s 400th anniversary celebration, and Virginia Tech was a particularly important part of Virginia’s history. As governor, the Queen’s consistent tenderness for the Commonwealth and Virginians will never be forgotten.
Younkin ordered flags across the Commonwealth to be lowered to half-staff Thursday night, until the queen’s interment.
Arlington’s members of Congress and the state legislature, as well as local institutions, are also offering their condolences via social media.
Rest In Peace, Queen Elizabeth II. A lifetime of consequence and steadfast service to her country.
Sarah and I – and a two month old Aaron – were lucky to be introduced to her by then Governor Kaine on her visit to Virginia in 2007. pic.twitter.com/EcNb3up6UF
— Alfonso Lopez (@Lopez4VA) September 8, 2022
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned during the ministry of Winston Churchill, it's hard to imagine a time without her. The U.K. and the world changed so much during her 70-year reign, but she was always a great friend to the U.S. I join those all over the world mourning her passing.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) September 8, 2022
Queen Elizabeth's decades-long reign was marked by incomparable poise, a steady devotion to the people of the UK, and a deepening of the critical friendship between our nations. My thoughts are with all mourning her powerful legacy.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) September 8, 2022
Kaine Statement on Passing of Queen Elizabeth II: pic.twitter.com/PE5yvTPbpq
— Sen. Kaine’s Team (@SenKaineTeam) September 8, 2022
Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash
(Updated at 11:15 p.m.) A Wakefield High School junior has died in the hospital after being struck by a driver while riding a scooter.
Miguel Angel Rivera suffered what were described as “massive injuries” after being struck while returning from work on an electric scooter.
On Monday, his parents said on a GoFundMe page that Rivera had died at a hospital in Fairfax County.
With heavy hearts, we want to announce that our Miguelito has passed as of early this morning, 9/5/2022. He is now in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ and will forever be remembered. He is now an angel looking down on us all.
We are in awe of the amount of love, support, and generosity that is being shown to help the family during this time of unimaginable sorrow and heartbreak. Miguel Angel was loved by so many, please keep the prayers coming for those closest to him that that they find peace, comfort, and healing.
The GoFundMe page, which has raised nearly $20,000 for medical and funeral expenses, does not detail what happened. A community leader who shared the page on social media said over the weekend, and again on Monday, said he did not have additional information about the crash.
ARLnow hears that the crash happened just over a week ago in Alexandria. Police there issued a press release about a crash that happened just after 10 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 along Beauregard Street, west of the Mark Center.
The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a traffic crash that occurred on Saturday, August 27, 2022, at the intersection of North Beauregard Street and Sanger Avenue.
At approximately 10:17 PM, police responded to the area for a scooter struck at the intersection of North Beauregard Street and Sanger Avenue. Preliminary investigation suggests the victim, 16 years of age, was making a left-hand turn onto Sanger Avenue from the southbound lane of North Beauregard Street when he was struck by a Black Toyota RAV-4 traveling northbound on North Beauregard Street. The victim was transported to the hospital in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.
The […] driver of the Black SUV, remained on the scene.
APD’s Crash Reconstruction Team is investigating the crash. The investigation is ongoing.
As of Tuesday afternoon school administrators had not yet sent an email to WHS families about Rivera’s death and, we’re told, were awaiting permission from the teen’s family to do so.
NBC 4 reported Tuesday night that Rivera was just minutes from his father’s house when he was struck. He died after being taken off life support at the hospital.
There’s still no word on whether the driver of the SUV will face any charges.
Longtime Local Business Leader Dies — “Longtime Arlington Chamber of Commerce president and civic leader Rich Doud passed away Dec. 9 at Virginia Hospital Center, the chamber announced Friday. Doud served as president of the Chamber for 23 years before retiring in May 2014. Among his many accomplishments were the creation of the Arlington Business Hall of Fame — to which he was enshrined in 2017 — and the Community Action Committee, and the establishment of Leadership Arlington, now known as Leadership Center for Excellence.” [InsideNova, Sun Gazette]
Televised Tree Lighting in Rosslyn — “The Rosslyn tree lighting was live on 7News Thursday evening with live music. Rosslyn Cheer 2021 includes the tree lighting, a holiday market at Central Place Plaza, raffles, and other giveaways.” [WJLA]
Former County Board Member Dies — “[Roye] Lowry, who served a four-year term on the Arlington County Board in the early 1960s (chairing it for a year) and later was active in a host of civic affairs, died Dec. 4, Goodwin House officials confirmed to the Sun Gazette. He was 103 years old – probably the longest lived of any person who has served on the County Board since it was established in the early 1930s.” [Sun Gazette]
Top Brunch Spots in Arlington — “Everyone knows that weekends are better with brunch, and in our area, it’s easy to find a spread to suit just about any taste or budget. Check this list of local brunch spots in Arlington to satisfy that midday hankering for dishes ranging from corned beef hash to waffles stuffed with apples, plus coffee, cocktails and other requisite hangover cures.” [Arlington Magazine]
It’s Monday — Today will be clear throughout the day, with a low of 38 and a high of 54. Sunrise at 7:18 a.m., sunset at 4:46 p.m. Tuesday will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 38 and a high of 55.
Flickr pool photo by Cyrus.W
Woman Struck, Killed on GW Parkway — “A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle on the George Washington Parkway near the Key Bridge early Saturday morning, according to police. Shortly before 3 a.m., U.S. Park Police responded to a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway south of the Key Bridge.” [WTOP, Patch]
Beyer Blasts ‘Anti-Vax Shutdown Plot’ — “Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), who represents the largest number of federal employees of any member of the U.S. House, today issued the following statement on Republicans’ publicly stated plan to shut down the government in an attempt to block the Administration’s Covid vaccination measures: ‘Republicans’ plan to shut down the government on purpose to sabotage our pandemic response is extraordinarily cynical and dangerous.'” [Rep. Don Beyer]
Arlington Firefighters Get to the Choppa –– “Recently 2 members from the ACFD had the unique opportunity to participate in a rope rescue course with regional law enforcement partners. Come take a ride with one of our members on their flight over the region, just don’t look down if you are afraid of heights.” [Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Following overnight showers, today will be relatively warm. There will be increasing clouds, with a high near 66. Southwest wind 7 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 62. [Weather.gov]
Body Found in Metro Tunnel Last Year — “On April 2, 2020, a report said, a person jumped on top of a Yellow Line train at L’Enfant Plaza station. A track inspector found the person’s body three days later between the Pentagon and Pentagon City stations in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Post, WMSC]
Runway Reconstruction for DCA — “Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $13,715,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded to four airports… [the] Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will receive a grant of $1,700,000 to go toward a runway reconstruction at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.” [Press Release]
Theme Announced for County Fair — “We are officially 50 days away from the Arlington County Fair! This year’s theme is… *drum roll please*… NIGHTS, LIGHTS, AND BITES! We are so excited for all the colorful nights, bright lights, and yummy bites at this year’s Fair, and we can’t wait to see you there!” [Twitter]
VHC Gets Grant for Remote OB Appointments — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, has received a $38,000 grant from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JBLF) for the pilot of the Hospital’s OB Connect program, which provides patients with the flexibility to receive prenatal care from home.” [Press Release]
Robbery at Pentagon City Mall — “At approximately 9:30 p.m. on June 25, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that the employee was assisting the suspect when he began to give her commands and directed her to open the display cases and place merchandise into his bag. The suspect then ordered the employee into the back of the store until he left the business.” [ACPD]
Restaurant T0-Go Drink Changes Extended — “During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many restaurants were shuttered, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) created a safe and secure way for restaurants to offer cocktails to go with a meal. The General Assembly has now continued this practice in statute for one year. In addition, restaurants who are delivering wine and beer can continue to do so for another year.” [Zebra]
Outdoor Balloon Launches Banned — “The revised law, sponsored by Del. Nancy Guy (D-Virginia Beach), takes effect on July 1, and will prohibit the intentional releasing, discarding, or causing to be released any balloon outdoors. Violators are liable for a civil penalty of $25 per balloon. The bill provides that if a person under the age of 16 releases a balloon at the instruction of an adult, the adult shall be liable for the civil penalty.” [Sun Gazette]
After a spike in opioid overdoses this weekend, the Arlington County Police Department is urging residents to take advantage of local substance abuse resources.
On Sunday, ACPD investigated two fatal overdoses and one overdose that left another person in critical condition, according to a news release.
Police said they suspect the overdoses are linked to heroin and prescription painkillers mixed with fentanyl.
“This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation,” the release said. “Due to the severity of these incidents, members of the public who may be affected by addiction or opioid use are urged to take steps to protect themselves and others through available resources in Arlington.”
This year, Arlington first responders have administered nasal Naloxone, also known as Narcan, 31 times to reverse an overdose from prescription painkillers or heroin, according to ACPD.
“Narcan is available over the counter without a prescription,” the release said. “Arlingtonians can request free Narcan and REVIVE (Narcan) training by emailing the Department of Human Services.”
In January, Arlington County received more than $1 million in state and federal grants to help fight the opioid epidemic with more staff and treatment options, as well as more Naloxone kits.
The epidemic continues to ravage Arlington County. After a downturn in 2018 and 2019, last year saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses, according to a new ACPD report. The dozens of reported overdoses in 2020 matched the number (74) reported at the peak of the opioid epidemic in 2017.
Officers investigated 20 fatal overdoses and 54 non-fatal overdoses in 2020, more than any other year since it began actively tracking incidents involving opioids in 2014, the report said.
Officials previously told ARLnow that the pandemic is likely to blame for much of the resurgence.
“There are a lot of reasons why people have relapses,” said Suzanne Somerville, the bureau chief for Residential and Specialized Clinical Services in DHS. “A lot of it does have to do with employment. A lot of our clients… work in the service industry and a lot of them lost their jobs.”
While the battle against addiction continues within the county, Arlington is suing dozens of businesses it alleges are key players in the epidemic. The suit, which seeks $150 million plus punitive damages of $350,000 per defendant, is currently mired in a squabble over where the case should be tried.
More information on overdoses, from the press release, below.
Signs of an Overdose
If you observe someone experiencing the following overdose symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately:
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Dizziness or confusion
- Cold or clammy skin
- Vomiting or gurgling
- Blue lips and/or fingernails
- Not responsive or sleeping and cannot be woken up
- Deep gurgling or rattling snore
Arlington County first responders carry Nasal Naloxone (also known as Narcan®), a safe and effective medication that can reverse an overdose from prescription painkillers or heroin. Narcan is available over the counter without a prescription. Arlingtonians can request free Narcan and REVIVE (Narcan) training by emailing the Department of Human Services.
Key Contact Information
DHS Substance Use Warm Line: 571-302-0327
Report Information on Narcotics Distribution
Programs and Services
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.