Arlington, VA

(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Arlington County’s crime rates have continued to fall for seventh straight year, with a few exceptions, according to a new report from the police department.

The new data comes from ACPD’s annual crime report which the department released today (Tuesday). The 37-page document reports falling crime rates between 2017 and 2018 for many offenses, including burglary, kidnapping, assault, embezzlement, prostitution, and forcible sexual assault.

The county’s murder rate held steady, with four murders reported in both 2017 and 2018. However, the data also shows some increases in offenses for drunkenness, and bribery and extortion.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage noted that bribery and extortion charges can result from online or phone scams, and that both were “prevalent in 2018” which caused the department to lead several community awareness campaigns.

Chief M. Jay Farr noted that by May of last year the department was suffering from a staffing shortage with only 320 “functional” full time officers out of the 361 the county budgeted for.

“Our Department has a dedicated pledge of serving the community with duty, honor, and commitment,” Farr wrote in a statement in the report. “While we have experienced challenges this year, our sworn and civilian staff have risen to the task each day and embodied our pledge through their actions.”

Drunkenness

The biggest crime increase noted in the report was for offenses related to “drunkenness” charges: in 2017, 273 offenses were recorded related to drunkenness charges, compared to 622 last year.

Savage told ARLnow one reason the number is so high could be an issue with last year’s data.

“The number of drunkenness arrests appear to be underreported to the state in 2017 due to a data processing issue,” she said. “Our Records Management Unit is currently working with Virginia State Police to rectify the issue.”

Another reason could be ACPD’s crackdown on “nightlife safety.” In addition to increasing patrols around Clarendon bars last year, the department also partnered with restaurants to train staff in responding to emergency situations and report them to law enforcement:

In recognizing the importance of training to support effective standards, the police department’s Restaurant Liaison Unit has collaborated across county agencies to provide a thorough ARI training program for restaurant staff. These trainings include responsible alcohol service, fake identification detection, understanding their civil liability, public safety expectations, CPR, and Bar Bystander sexual assault intervention training.

The report noted that as part of ACPD’s “Restaurant Initiative” it trained 28 restaurants and 260 employees in the health and safety protocols.

Drugs

Arlington has seen the number of people seeking treatment for opioid addiction skyrocket in recent years. However, data shared in today’s report indicates that while the number of opioid-related incidents reported to 9-1-1 last year (153) remained close to 2017’s number (157), the number of overdoses decreased (53 in 2018 compared to 74 in 2017) and fatal overdoses also fell from 19 in 2017 to 11 in 2018.

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Morning Notes

Arlington County Suing Opioid Makers — “The Arlington County Board has emulated nearly two dozen other Virginia localities in taking to court a large number of opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers, including some of the biggest names in the health-care industry.” [InsideNova]

HQ2 Affordable Housing Funds Going to Loudoun? — “When Virginia officials promised $75 million over five years for affordable housing in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters announcement, Arlington officials assumed that those dollars would be split between the county and neighboring Alexandria. They were not thrilled to find out other localities might get a piece.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pedestrian Struck in CVS Parking Lot — “Police and medics are on scene of an elderly pedestrian struck by a car in the CVS parking lot on the 6400 block of Williamsburg Blvd. The victim reportedly suffered a broken bone and is being transported to the hospital.” [Twitter]

Early Video of Nauck House Fire — Video posted to Facebook shows the scene as firefighters start to arrive at yesterday’s house fire in the Nauck neighborhood, near the W&OD Trail. [Statter 911]

Discussing Nightlife Safety — “‘A Conversation about Nightlife Safety’ will take place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m… The event will feature panelists from various Arlington County departments speaking about how they collaborated to build trusting relationships with restaurant staff and improve safety.” [Arlington County]

What’s in a Name? — At the Pentagon City mall, Panda Tea House is now bustling where Kokee Tea struggled last year. Was it the name change, or the addition of Thai rolled ice cream to the menu? [Twitter]

Photo courtesy @eugeneksoh

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Morning Notes

Lawmakers Regret Hasty Reaction to Scandals — “If they had to do it all over, members of Arlington’s legislative delegation acknowledge it might have been better to hit the pause button before rushing in to judge the actions of embattled statewide officeholders.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Adds Stanley Cups to Recycling List — “Stanley cups made of silver and nickel alloy and won by the Washington NHL franchise in 2018 should be maintained and recycled by the team annually for continued Arlington-Washington regional delight. #ALL CAPS #Back2Back” [Arlington County, RMNB]

Blues Fest Lineup Announced — “Riding a wave of accolades for his just-released CD Somebody Save Me (Forty Below Records) and two 2019 Blues Award nominations, soul/blues vocalist Sugaray Rayford headlines the 24th Annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival, on Saturday, June 15, 2019.” [Columbia Pike]

Police Participating in Drug Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 17th opportunity in eight years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by huskerdont77

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Arlington law enforcement officials are launching a program to help people with addictions get help without jail time.

Operation Safe Station” allows the Office of the Magistrate to waive charges on people with an addiction who turn themselves and their drugs in, and ask for help.

“Forgoing a prosecution and connecting individuals to treatment professionals is a first step in fighting this pernicious epidemic,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos in a statement Tuesday.

The program is the latest effort combatting the opioid crisis after the county saw a 245 percent increase in patients seeking treatment for opioid addiction between 2015 and 2017.

Operation Safe Station will refer participating people to “support groups, outpatient office based opioid treatment programs, Methadone programs, and when appropriate, residential treatment” per the description on the county’s website.

The program is a joint creation of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Arlington County Police, and Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services (DHS).

In a Tuesday press release, Chief of Police Jay Farr, DHS Director Anita Friedman, and Sheriff Beth Arthur praised Operation Safe Station for “removing barriers” preventing people from seeking help with their addictions.

However, the program does not accept people who:

  • Have outstanding arrest warrants
  • Have been convicted of giving, selling, or distributing drugs, or convicted of doing so with the intent to manufacture
  • Are under 18 years old and don’t have a guardian with them
  • Are determined to be a threat to program staff by police

Those who do not meet these criteria still face arrest if they turn themselves in with controlled substances at the Magistrate’s Office.

Operation Safe Station participants must also agree to a search and sign an agreement committing themselves to the program.

The program’s announcement comes several months into Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos’ campaign for re-election. Challenger Parisa Tafti has criticized the prosecutor for being slow to implement criminal justice reform measures like eliminating cash bail.

Stamos has defended her record earlier this week by referencing success of her “Second Chance” program she says diverted 500 minors struggling with addict from court since its start in 2011 as well as a Drug Court program.

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The owner of a Clarendon gym who pleaded guilty to trying to buy large quantities of cocaine from undercover police officers has been sentenced.

A federal judge sentenced Pascal Laporte to four years in prison today, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia announced this afternoon.

Prosecutors say Laporte thought he was buying two kilograms of cocaine from a Mexican cartel for $50,000, but was in fact meeting with undercover Fairfax County Police detectives. They say that Laporte planned to sell the cocaine and promised future purchases of up to 100 kilograms.

More from a press release, via the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

An Arlington man was sentenced today to nearly four years in prison for his role in purchasing 2 kilograms of cocaine from undercover detectives.

According to court documents, Pascal Laporte, 40, intended to purchase 2 kilograms of cocaine from undercover Fairfax County Police detectives who purported themselves as members a drug cartel based in Mexico. For over a year, Laporte expressed to a confidential source his need for a cheaper supplier of cocaine who could provide him with kilogram quantities. Laporte first met the undercover detectives in early August 2018 at a restaurant in Tysons Corner, to discuss pricing per kilogram and the quantity Laporte desired. Laporte told the undercover detectives it would take him a week to sell off 1 kilogram of cocaine.

In the weeks leading up to his arrest, Laporte communicated with the CS his desire to start with the purchase of 2 kilograms of cocaine, and if the arrangement went well, he would then purchase 10 kilograms, and then upwards of 100 kilograms per month. Laporte even traveled to Miami with the intention to find a means to transport the cocaine himself to the Northern Virginia area in an effort to obtain the cheapest price per kilogram. Laporte was arrested in August 2018 as he was inspecting the cocaine that he was to purchase. He brought $45,000 to the meeting, as partial payment for the 2 kilograms.

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Morning Notes

Board Member Wants Lower School Costs — “In remarks to a local service organization, Matt de Ferranti telegraphed the likelihood that Arlington property owners would see a higher real-estate-tax rate this year, in part to pay for higher school costs. But at the same time, he said the days of gold-plated school facilities must come to an end.” [InsideNova]

Arlington No. 5 on ‘Women in Tech’ List — Arlington County ranks fifth on a new list of “the Best Cities for Women in Tech in 2019.” D.C. ranked No. 1. [SmartAsset]

Isabella Restaurant Gear Up for Auction — “Rasmus Auctions is advertising online auctions for kitchen equipment, dining room contents, decor and more at Yona, Pepita and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington until about noon March 13.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Expanding Drug Take-Back Boxes — “In the first calendar year of the Permanent Drug Take-Back Box program, residents safely disposed of 1008 pounds of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications. Due to the success of the program, an additional permanent drug take-back box has been installed at Arlington County Fire Station #5.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Calls for More Pet Foster Families — “We need your help! Our kennels are full and we are in URGENT need of foster homes for medium-large adult dogs and kittens undergoing treatment for ringworm.” [Facebook]

Falls Church Becoming ‘Un-boring’ — The sleepy City of Falls Church is attracting younger residents amid a development boom, cheered on in an editorial by the little city’s newspaper. [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

Memorial Bridge Potholes — Large potholes made for dangerous driving on the under-construction Memorial Bridge over the weekend, but crews started repairing the bridge’s pockmarked surface Tuesday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Poke Restaurant Coming to Ballston — Local restaurant Poke It Up is expanding with a second location. The restaurant, which first opened in the Pentagon City mall food court, is now planning to open this summer at 4401 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston, next to a new soup shop, Zoup. [Eater]

Shutdown Costing Local Economy Big Bucks — “About $119.2 million per day is removed from the gross regional product each day the shutdown drags on, according to local economist Stephen Fuller, thanks to lost pay of federal workers, contractors and suppliers and the multiplied economic effects of their lost spending. That daily hit… drops to $46.4 million per day once federal workers are ultimately repaid their lost wages.” [Washington Business Journal]

Overturned Vehicle in Crystal City — A driver managed to flip his or her vehicle in a crash last night on 18th Street S., near the Crystal City Metro station. [Twitter]

Board Set to Endorse VRE Funding — “Arlington County Board members on Jan. 26 are expected to endorse a request by Virginia Railway Express (VRE) for state funding to support construction of a new Crystal City station. The transit agency will seek grant funding from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, which if approved could cover up to 70 percent of the cost of construction. VRE will fund the rest.” [InsideNova]

Changes to State Inspection Stickers — “The stickers are smaller, in response to complaints that the new sticker placement on the bottom left of the windshield, which started in 2018, resulted in reduced visibility for drivers.” [Tysons Reporter]

Nearby: Alexandria Warns About Opioids — “The City of Alexandria has responded to four suspected opioid overdoses in the last 72 hours, including two fatalities. While recreational use of opioids is always dangerous and illegal, City officials are urging residents to be aware of the medical safety of the drugs, including heroin, that could be extremely concentrated or mixed with something unusual that is resulting in life-threatening situations.” [City of Alexandria]

Flickr pool photo by Eschweik

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A Clarendon gym owner will now spend years behind bars, after admitting that he tried to buy large quantities of cocaine from undercover police officers.

Pascal Laporte, the owner of Clarendon Fitness, has pleaded guilty to federal drug charges alleging that he tried to buy and then distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Laporte will now face anywhere between five and 40 years in prison, according to documents filed in federal court.

Federal prosecutors first charged Laporte back in late August, claiming that he unwittingly spoke with a police informant for close to a year as he looked to find a supplier to sell him hundreds of kilograms of cocaine on an ongoing basis.

The informant eventually arranged a drug deal with Laporte in the parking lot of the Arlington Traditional School in fall 2017, and he subsequently mentioned that he hoped to provide associates in Florida and South Carolina with drugs for distribution. He was arrested in a Tysons-area hotel, when he attempted to exchange $45,000 for drugs in a deal with two police officers posing as Mexican gang members.

Laporte founded the Clarendon gym, located at 2907 Wilson Blvd, back in 2010.

The terms of his plea agreement stipulate he’ll have to hand over the $45,000 in cash he brought to his meeting with police officers to the federal government, in addition to a 2011 Jeep Wrangler he used to conduct these drug transactions.

Laporte is set to be sentenced on Jan. 25 in federal court.

Meanwhile, a video featuring Laporte is still displayed prominently on the Clarendon Fitness website.

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Morning Notes

Marine Corps Marathon Recap — A D.C. man and a Costa Rican woman were the winners of the 43rd annual Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. Meanwhile, the last “Groundpounder,” who had run every Marine Corps Marathon since its inception in 1976, announced his retirement on Saturday after deciding to withdraw from this year’s race. [RunWashington, Stars and Stripes, WTOP]

Arlington Gets Addiction Treatment Grant — “Arlington County has been awarded $250,000 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to help people with substance use disorders. The grant is part of the insurer’s nearly $2.1-million investment in community health organizations working to combat substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders.” [Arlington County]

Parking Concerns For Nauck Pool — “Nauck Civic Association president Portia Clark, whose organization supports” a planned pool in Nauck, “pressed county officials to make sure the neighborhood had a say on issues related to its development, including operating hours and parking. ‘Our community has some parking challenges,’ Clark said. ‘The community should be involved.'” [InsideNova]

‘Signs of Fatigue’ For Real Estate Market — “There was a pronounced drop in the number of homes for sale in Northern Virginia in September, and prices may be showing signs of topping out… The number of sales across the Northern Virginia region almost universally fell in September, with sales in Arlington County down 12 percent from a year ago.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photos by Eric and Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Big Tree Fall on Car — A large tree fell across 8th Street S. late last week, crushing a parked car and causing a widespread power outage. [Twitter]

Local NAACP Reflects on Progress — “The Arlington NAACP’s 71st-anniversary Freedom Fund Banquet was a chance to look back on progress, but also to press for vigilance so it doesn’t slip away… The banquet on Oct. 13 drew a large crowd to the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel.” [InsideNova]

Rosslyn LED Art Unveiled — “Cliff Garten Studio is pleased to announce, ‘Gravity and Grace,’ a site-specific large-scale LED public artwork integrated into the architecture of JBG SMITH’s Central Place Plaza in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington.” [LiveDesign]

Yorktown Tied for First — “With an important homecoming victory over the visiting Langley Saxons in Oct. 12 football action, the Yorktown Patriots (4-3, 2-0) upped their winning streak to three to remain tied for first place in the Liberty District.” [InsideNova]

ACPD Again Holding Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 16th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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The owner of the Clarendon Fitness gym is now facing federal drug charges, after he allegedly tried to buy $50,000 worth of cocaine from undercover police officers.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents have charged Pascal Shaun Laporte with possession with intent to distribute, claiming that he was willing to buy two kilograms of cocaine from officers posing as Mexican gang members late last month. In an affidavit filed in federal court, the agents allege that Laporte unwittingly spoke with a police informant for close to a year as he looked to find a supplier to sell him hundreds of kilograms of cocaine each month.

Laporte opened Clarendon Fitness, a gym located at 2907 Wilson Blvd, back in 2010 and bills himself as a fitness enthusiast and investor on the business’s website. Neither Laporte nor his attorney responded to requests for comment on the drug charges.

The DEA claims that an informant first told agents about Laporte’s interest in finding a “cocaine supplier” in September 2017. Officials allege that Laporte paid the informant $1,600 to buy an ounce of cocaine two months later, striking a deal in the parking lot of the Arlington Traditional School (855 N. Edison Street).

By August, the informant arranged a meeting between Laporte and two Fairfax County police officers posing as members of “a Mexican drug trafficking organization” at the Tysons Corner mall. Laporte told them he was already “involved with another group of men who were getting him cocaine,” but that he was interested in buying much more, according to the affidavit.

Later that month, Laporte told the informant that he was coordinating with associates in both South Carolina and Florida, and hoped to buy as much as 10 kilograms of cocaine moving forward, if an initial deal with the undercover detectives went well.

On Aug. 30, the agents claim that the informant was able to arrange the sale at a Tysons Corner hotel, at which point Laporte delivered them $45,000, pledging to give them another $5,000 the next day. At that point, officers arrested Laporte.

Court records show Laporte was released from jail on a $30,000 bond on Sept. 6.

These drug charges are not Laporte’s first run-in with law enforcement. Arlington court records show he pleaded guilty to felony assault and battery in 2007, though the charge was eventually reduced to a misdemeanor.

Police also charged him with attempted malicious wounding and the assault and battery of a family member in 2014, but declined to move forward with those charges — he subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct for preventing someone from dialing 911.

File photo

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