The Arlington County Police Department and the Virginia National Guard are planning a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that could add state-level counter drug support to Arlington’s local law enforcement.
At the Saturday (Feb. 22) meeting, the County Board is scheduled to review the MOU that would add a new National Guard analyst to the police department’s Organized Crime Section.
“This MOU will provide guidance on a collaborative relationship for a [National Guard] counter drug analyst embedded within the Organized Crime Section to assist with the analysis of data obtained through drug investigations and provide the opportunity for additional [National Guard] support,” a staff report said. “The proposed MOU would also provide additional opportunities for VANG assistance and support with respect to counter-drug activities in the County.”
The staff report says that the National Guard is authorized to provide support for activities like “investigative case and analyst support” and “domestic cannabis eradication support.” The National Guard would only be in a support role and would not be involved in “operational aspects of law enforcement nor evidence collection or preservation,” the report said.
The analyst would, at no cost to the department, also assist in analyzing cell phone records and other collected data.
“ACPD will be able to utilize the VANG personnel to further investigations at no additional cost to the County,” a county staff report notes. “In addition, the MOU will open the possibilities of utilizing the VANG in other support roles to further the counter drug activities of the ACPD.”
Photo by Jay Westcott
Local and federal law enforcement agencies are organizing an event to dispose of unwanted medications.
On Saturday, October 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will collect prescription drugs from people who want to clear our their cabinets.
Officers will be stationed at Fire Station #1 (500 S. Glebe Road), Fire Station #2 (4805 Wilson Boulevard), and Fire Station #9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive) during the day to collect the medications.
The event is a part of an annual, nationwide movement of police departments encouraging Americans to dispose of extra or unused medications to prevent them from being sold illegally, ingested accidentally, or disposed of improperly.
Needles will not be accepted at any of the three sites on Saturday — only pills and patches can be dropped off during the event.
“To safely dispose of sharps, Arlington County recommends placing the item in a hard-plastic container, such as a detergent bottle, securing the container and placing it in your trash cart,” ACPD noted in its press release about the event. “Do not put this container in your recycling.”
Arlington has also installed several drug drop-off boxes around the county where people can dispose of unwanted medications anytime. However, the boxes only accept pills, vitamins, ointments, and patches.
So far, ACPD says the county has collected 2,816 pounds of drugs via the boxes since installing three of them last year. After collecting 1,000 pounds last year, the department added a new box in the beginning of 2019.
The boxes are available for drop-offs anytime and are installed in the side of the following buildings:
- Fire Station #2 (4805 Wilson Boulevard)
- Fire Station #5 (1750 S. Hayes Street)
- Fire Station #9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
- Arlington County Police Department HQ (1425 N. Courthouse Road)
Pedestrian Struck on Crash-Prone Stretch — “A pedestrian was struck on Washington Blvd in front of Washington-Liberty HS around 10 a.m. this morning. The victim was transported to a hospital with minor injuries, per scanner traffic. This stretch has seen numerous pedestrians struck by drivers over the past few years.” [Twitter]
Local Leaders from Wa. Coming to Talk Amazon — “How do you prepare for Amazon.com Inc. when the company plans to drastically grow in your city? That’s what city officials from Bellevue, Washington, hope to learn from our own Arlington, as they send an envoy to meet with county leaders Thursday. The communities… each expect to house more than 4,000 Amazon employees by 2022.” [Washington Business Journal]
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Approaching — “On Saturday, October 26, 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 18th opportunity in nine years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. This disposal service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.” [Arlington County]
Special Burial and Flyover at ANC — “A pilot who died during WWII was finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Air Force Major Donn Young’s remains were recovered decades after his B-25 bomber crashed in Papua New Guinea… The burial happened, in part, because of an adventurous entrepreneur.” [WJLA]
Another Wohl, Burkman Press Conference — Conservative provocateurs Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl held yet another press conference outside Burkman’s Rosslyn area townhouse to accuse another Democratic presidential candidate of sexual impropriety. The press conference was disrupted by a bagpiper, a process server and a man in a corn suit. [Twitter]
Congressman: Congress Must ‘Do Something’ About Trump — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted yesterday: “President Trump just said out loud that it’s OK to betray our Kurdish allies and allow the release of 11,000 ISIS fighters because ‘they’re going to be escaping to Europe.’ He’s out of completely out of control and Congress has to do something about it.” [Twitter]
Photo courtesy Catherine Ladd
A pharmacy owner with stores in Arlington and Alexandria has been sentenced to four years behind bars for falsifying insurance claims and illegally dispensing opioids.
Latif Mohamed Chowdhury, 29, was sentenced to prison on Friday after law enforcement accused him of running a get rich quick scheme by billing insurance companies for prescriptions he never filled, and in some cases, were never prescribed by a doctor to the patient. Officials say Chowdhury, who did not have a pharmacy license, dispensed medications and billed insurance companies at his two pharmacies between August 2015 and February 2016 using identities he had stolen from licensed pharmacists.
“Chowdhury blithely violated his position of trust,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in a statement last week.
Federal prosecutors said Chowdhury pocketed $500,000 from his fraudulent billing and illegally dispensed “a significant number” of opioid and other medications.
Officials also said in the course of their investigation they found Chowdhury had given opioids to seven-year-old children “outside the usual course of professional practice.”
While searching one of the pharmacies, officials said they found Chowdhury had left a loaded Colt .38 revolver on one of the store’s shelves.
The Arlington pharmacy (called ACP-2) was located at 611 S. Carlin Springs Road, at the Virginia Hospital Center campus that is being acquired by Arlington County in a land swap. The Alexandria pharmacy (ACP-1) was located at 8330 Richmond Highway.
“Although one of Chowdhury’s family members owned ACP-2, Chowdhury in fact operated, managed, directed, and controlled ACP-2 from in or around January 2015 through in or around February 2016. ACP-2 was shut down for business in March 2016,” Matthew Nestopoulos, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told ARLnow.
On his LinkedIn, Chowdhury listed experience working in information technology — including eight months at the Pentagon — before leaving the field and opening the two pharmacists.
“In 2013 I began to venture towards opening a business and work alongside my career to grow Alexandria Care Pharmacy which has now been successfully operating for two years,” he wrote.
His most recent post included a call to hire “full-time background investigators” for a new business venture.
“We are committed to protecting the public and the people of Virginia,” said Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division. “We will continue to track down and bring to justice criminals who are fueling the opiate crisis at every level including pill writers, pill fillers, and drug dealers in the area.”
Friday’s sentencing came after Chowdhury pled guilty in July.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
Water Main Break Near Courthouse — Updated at 8:10 a.m. — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews working on a 3-inch main at 2000 N. Adams St. The area includes high-rise buildings and some 100 customers could be affected. Traffic is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]
Gun, Drug Arrest at Pentagon City Metro — A man is facing a litany of gun and drug-related charges after being arrested by Metro Transit Police officers for alleged fare evasion at the Pentagon City station this past Thursday. [Twitter]
APS Hits Full Bus Driver Staffing — “The school year began with full staffing of drivers and bus attendants, who serve 18,000 eligible students over 154 routes, using 200 buses.” [InsideNova]
DCA Starbucks Closing Permanently — “Beginning on or about Monday, September 9, Starbucks on the Ticketing level of Terminal B/C will close to make way for construction of a steel-framed glass divider.” [Reagan National Airport]
Nearby: Alexandria Metro Stations Reopening — “Alexandria Metrorail stations will reopen at 5 a.m. on September 9, with full service following Metro’s summer Platform Improvement Project. Metro closed all four Metrorail stations in Alexandria (as well as two in Fairfax County) for safety repairs on May 25.” [City of Alexandria]
Arlington is training hundreds of people to use the opioid overdose-reversing drug naloxone in hopes of saving lives amid the opioid crisis.
The free trainings last a little over an hour and teach participants how to recognize an opioid overdose and to administer naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. As of Tuesday night, officials said Arlington has trained 644 people and given away 518 boxes of the drug.
Studying to Save Lives
Emily Siqveland is the county’s coordinator for the state-funded Revive program, which provides the training materials for the classes.
“I often remind people that addiction is similar to diabetes,” said Siqveland, in front of the half a dozen people who showed up to the Arlington Mill Community Center Tuesday night to take one of the classes.
“You can make lifestyle adjustments to manage your diabetes,” she said. “Addiction is the same. You can make lifestyle changes to manage the addiction, and you still need treatment. It’s still a chronic and relapsing disease.”
In addition to talking about how addiction works, Siqveland showed attendees how to administer the little white nasal spray as part of the county’s “multi-disciplinary approach” to tackling the opioid crisis.
Arlington began marshaling representatives from county agencies, local non-profits, and APS in 2017 to form an Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative (AARI) to find solutions and hold several town halls.
One of the group’s more recent tasks was choosing how to spend $258,000 in state grants for treatment and prevention services.
One way AARI allocated the funds is a new ad on the side of local Metrobuses, featuring the county’s opioid resources page, plus “remembrance trees” currently on display in the Shirlington, Columbia Pike, and Central libraries until September 3. People can add a leaf to the trees in memory of someone they know who died from opioid addiction.
Addiction by the Numbers
In Arlington, police reported 53 overdoses in 2018, 11 of which were fatal.
The data indicated that seven fewer people died overdosing on opioids in 2018 compared to 2017 (19). However, the overall number of opioid-involved incidents (153) in 2018 remained steady after jumping to 157 incidents in 2017. In all, 50 opioid overdose deaths have been reported in Arlington since 2014.
(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.”
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.
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.
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]
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
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
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.
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.