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Morning Notes

APS Adds Non-Binary Gender Option — “This school year, Arlington Public Schools added a new question on its form for students to indicate a designated gender, including male, female and ‘X.'” [DCist]

ACPD Has New Electronic Sign — “You may see a new electronic signboard around @ArlingtonVA thanks to JAG grant funds provided through the @TheJusticeDept! These signboards help ACPD share important public safety messaging around school zones, events and campaigns… The signboards also display motorists speed so remember to slow down and obey posted speed limits.” [Twitter]

Leak Prompts Early Morning Road Closure — “A water leak has been repaired after causing early morning traffic problems Wednesday in Arlington. The leak was reported along S. Arlington Ridge Road between 23rd St S. and the Interstate 395 Service road.” [Fox 5]

Jail Holds Holiday Party for Inmates’ Kids — “The Arlington County Detention Facility was transformed Tuesday night into the fictional town, Whoville, in anticipation of a few special visitors. Some children were given the opportunity to visit their incarcerated parents.” [WUSA 9]

Amazon News Roundup — Amazon is planning to bring a “Treasure Truck retail vehicle” to the D.C. area. One way to accommodate new HQ2 workers would be to upzone nearby residential neighborhoods like Aurora Highlands to the population density of Capital Hill or San Francisco’s Mission District. Prompted by Amazon’s arrival, George Mason University plans to build a new 400,000 square foot facility on its Virginia Square campus in Arlington to house the Institute for Digital Innovation, “a research enterprise for fields like data analytics, cybersecurity and defense.”

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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Arlington’s Top Prosecutor Won’t Seek Cash Bail for Most Misdemeanors, But Concerns Remain

Arlington’s top prosecutor now says she’ll no longer seek cash bail for people accused of most low-level misdemeanors, in a bid to avoid jailing people simply because they can’t afford to pay their bond after they’re charged with a crime.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, a Democrat, announced Thursday (Nov. 1) that her prosecutors will now only seek cash bonds in cases involving drug dealing or drunk driving. She added that her office will simply describe the facts of a defendant’s case and any prior criminal history, and leave it up to a judge to decide the circumstances of any pretrial release.

Stamos previously attracted some criticism on the issue of bail reform, after nine state lawmakers from around the area wrote to her in June to urge a wholesale overhaul of the county’s system. She dismissed that letter at the time as “misguided” and “silly,” arguing that the General Assembly needed to act to change state law before she could make substantial changes.

Stamos told ARLnow that she remains convinced that she “can’t reform bail statutes on my own,” and said this latest change was the result of her own research over the last two years or so, not any outside pressure.

“This is a much more complicated issue than simply saying, ‘Let’s do away with cash bail,'” Stamos said. “This has been a deliberative process, and I wanted to have a lot plans in place before doing anything.”

Stamos expects that the change will mainly apply to people accused of misdemeanors like disorderly conduct, trespassing or obstruction of justice. She says those charges often land on the county’s poorer residents, and that “results in people sitting in jail because they can’t afford $150 for a bond payment.” Instead, Stamos says it will now be solely up to judges to evaluate whether people charged with those sorts of offenses represent a flight risk or a danger to the community before setting a cash bond.

“The court has to make the decision anyway, and we’ll give the court the opportunity to understand what the facts are,” she said.

But the change still doesn’t sit well with Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2nd District). Though she represents Prince William County in the legislature, she’s spent years as a public defender in Arlington, and has introduced a host of legislation to reform the state’s criminal justice system during her brief time in Richmond.

Foy notes that leaving bond decisions up to judges can leave the question of pretrial release subject to the same “implicit bias” that often lands low-income defendants of color in jail under the status quo. She’d much rather see Stamos move to the same system adopted by other states, which relies entirely on pretrial risk assessments to determine the conditions of a person’s release.

“For most misdemeanors, absent a glaring issue, those reports recommend releasing them,” Foy said. “I appreciate that she’s willing to have the conversation, and it’s a good start in the right direction. But I don’t see a hard and fast commitment being made here.”

Stamos says she’s reluctant to embrace more wholesale cash bail reforms, as she fears doing so would cripple a key funding source for the very staffers who monitor people once they’ve been released from jail. She points to New Jersey, in particular, as a state that’s made major cash bail reforms and run into such problems.

“If you don’t properly fund a robust pretrial service, you’ll have more people held without bond and who won’t get out at all,” Stamos said. “I can’t do away with cash bail by myself, because I can’t fund pretrial services. I have no ability to direct funds, and neither does the sheriff [who manages the county jail].”

Yet Foy believes Stamos is “conflating” the issues of pretrial services and cash bail reform. She argues that communities should indeed invest more money into such services, but she hasn’t seen nearly the same one-to-one relationship between ending cash bail and localities suddenly needing to hold people in jail without bond — after all, incarcerating people requires money as well.

Overall, however, Stamos is urging lawmakers like Foy to find a legislative fix and pass some sort of cash bail reform when the General Assembly reconvenes in a few months. Local Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) said he’d certainly be willing to do so, in a statement released alongside Stamos’ announcement.

“Theo continues to be a leader in the criminal justice reform movement,” Hope wrote. “I fully support her efforts today and look forward to working with her and others on the issue of bail reform when we convene in Richmond.”

Foy says she fully plans to introduce more legislation on the topic this year, and hopes to work with people across the criminal justice system to build a bit more support than it garnered in her first session in Richmond this year. But she also urged prosecutors like Stamos not to be content with waiting on the slow advance of legislative progress when they can act now.

“Virginia is in a position to lead change on this,” Foy said. “But they don’t have to wait for us to change things legislatively. Commonwealth’s attorneys have best practices they can implement in their own offices, and they can reduce the impact on minorities and the indigent right now.”

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Family Surprised to Learn Pet Was a Snapping Turtle — “An Arlington family took in a box turtle to be the new family pet recently — only to find out that it was actually a snapping turtle. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington tweeted out a photo of the turtle, noting that their officers had seized the turtle from the unwitting family.” [Patch, Twitter]

APS Delays Release of Construction Cost Report — “Arlington residents will have to wait a little longer for an analysis of the reasons behind the high costs of school construction in the county. The audit committees of the County Board and School Board had been slated to meet Aug. 7 in a joint session to discuss a report by school-system auditor John Mickevice on school-construction costs. That meeting, however, was called off.” [InsideNova]

TSA Keeps Finding Guns in Carry-ons at DCA — Earlier this month, in two separate incidents, TSA agents at Reagan National Airport seized loaded handguns from two men trying to carry them onto planes. The guns were the seventh and eighth seized at the airport so far this year. The men are now facing weapons charges. [Patch]

Jail Holds Creative Writing Contest — A 26-year-old man who’s in jail on a heroin possession charge won the Arlington County lockup’s first-ever creative writing contest yesterday. His prize-winning poem, in part: “I dream about the future. I dream about the past. I dream about the mountains. I dream about the sea. I dream of all the places that I would rather be.” [NBC Washington]

InsideNova Not Available in Europe — More than 1,000 U.S. news websites are blocking users from Europe after the EU implemented strict new privacy regulations known as GDPR on May 25. Among the sites that are no longer accessible from Europe, as seen in this screen shot from last month: InsideNova, which publishes articles from the Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper. [Nieman Journalism Lab]

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Morning Notes

FBI Renews Search for Hotel Rapist — A cold case is getting hotter as the FBI steps up the search for a man who raped hotel employees in the D.C. area, including in Arlington, between 1998 and 2006. Authorities still don’t know who the suspect is, but in a first for the region, the man’s DNA profile has been indicted for the crime. [FBI, NBC Washington, WTOP]

‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Housed at Local Facility? — “The feds may use a local juvenile detention center to house some of the nearly 2,000 children they’ve separated from their parents at the Mexican border. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg said she’s expressed ‘strong concerns’ with the board that runs the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, which has a contract to hold as many as 30 unaccompanied minors. The detention center is jointly run by Alexandria and Arlington.” [WUSA 9]

ACPD Helps Kid’s Dream Come True — “After over 900 days in foster care, Cameron’s wish came true when he found his forever family. During last week’s @Capitals visit, we were able to help him with his 2nd wish-touching the #StanleyCup! Today he stopped by to thank Officer Rihl for helping make his dream a reality!” [Twitter]

Local Tech Firm Signs Rosslyn Lease — As expected after being selected for a $60,000 Gazelle grant from Arlington County earlier this year, local tech firm Higher logic has signed a lease and is moving employees into a new 31,000 square foot headquarters space at Waterview Tower (1919 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn. The company, which makes community engagement software, acquired four companies last year. The new office offers “floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Potomac River, an open, collaborative environment, and much needed room to expand.” [Washington Business Journal]

Firefighters Help Cool Kids Down — Earlier this week, with sweltering temperatures putting a damper on outdoor activities, an Arlington County fire engine helped Patrick Henry Elementary students cool down during their field day. [Twitter]

ACFD Trains for Water Rescues — The Arlington County Fire Department has a water rescue team, and before yesterday’s rains the team was training in the rapids at Great Falls. [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Board Votes for Housing Conservation District — The Arlington County Board on Saturday voted 4-1 in favor of the creation of Housing Conservations Districts, which will make it more difficult for property owners to convert multifamily buildings into single-family homes. The Board says there is an urgent need to preserve market-rate affordable apartments, though critics charged that the Board rushed a decision that will restrict the rights of private property owners. [Washington Post]

Volunteers Place 245K Wreaths at ANC — “The weather was chilly but that didn’t stop huge crowds from heading to Arlington National Cemetery to help out with the annual wreath laying Saturday. Traffic was jammed and sidewalks were packed with long lines of volunteers.” [WTOP, Twitter]

New Fire Station 8 Moving Forward — The County Board approved a zoning change that will allow the creation of a new Fire Station #8 on Lee Highway to move forward. [InsideNova]

Doctor Charged With Spiking Drink with Abortion Pill — A doctor who had recently moved to Arlington was arrested in May and charged with spiking his pregnant girlfriend’s drink with an abortion pill, which then caused her to lose the baby. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County jail, awaiting trial. [Fox News]

Bridging the Biking Gender Gap in Arlington — “Despite overall growth in the number of people biking to work, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed by cities, organizations, and employers for more women to bike more often.” [BikeArlington]

Children Visit Incarcerated Parents — Children of inmates at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse were able to visit and play with their incarcerated parents during the jail’s annual holiday party. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Phil

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Morning Notes

Planning for Transportation Changes in Rosslyn — “Local officials are now partnering with developers to make more improvements to help convince the next big corporate tenant to pick Rosslyn.” [Bisnow]

Teavana to Remain Open — Set to close next year, the Teavana store at Pentagon City mall is now expected to remain open thanks to a judge’s ruling against parent company Starbucks. [Washington Business Journal]

Lopez’s Detention Center Work Criticized — “Del. Alfonso H. Lopez, a Democrat who has represented a Hispanic­-heavy South Arlington district since 2012, was paid more than $5,000 a year in 2014 and more than $10,000 a year in 2015 and 2016 by Immigration Centers of America (ICA), which operates a detention center in Farmville, Va. , according to his state financial disclosure reports.” [Washington Post]

Holiday Events for Incarcerated Parents — Today and tomorrow, the Arlington County jail will be hosting a pair of “special events to allow incarcerated mothers and fathers to visit with their children during the winter holidays.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Show Goes On Despite Snow — The Arlington County Police Department’s “Operation Santa” performance, featuring cops donning costumes and dancing for children in the community, went on Saturday despite the snowy weather. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Residents Urged to Report Water Main Breaks — “With colder weather in the offing, Arlington government officials are asking the public to serve as a first line of defense against catastrophic water-main breaks… County residents who see a problem are asked to immediately call the 24-hour emergency hotline at (703) 228-6555.” [InsideNova]

Remy’s New Parody Video — “Arlington Rap” guy Remy released a new music video on Halloween, a “Thriller” political parody called “Trigger.” [YouTube]

Airbags, Doors Stolen from Car — Thieves broke a window of a car in a Crystal City apartment building parking lot overnight this past Friday and proceeded to steal two of its doors and the airbag. Police said it was “clearly the work of professionals.” [Fox 5]

Preserving the Arlington Woods — Ecologist Joan Maloof is working to preserve the remaining 12 acres of the once 600 acre Arlington Woods on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, along with other old-growth forests. [Washington Post]

Programs at Arlington County Jail — Inmates have access to a number of programs during their typically short stays at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse, including English language training, special education, chaplain and library services. For some of the instructors, running their programs is just as rewarding for them as it is for the inmates. [Falls Church News-Press]

Glebewood Neighborhood Profiled — “When house hunters encounter the Glebewood neighborhood in Arlington County, they tend to express admiration for its location, schools, amenities and transportation. That the townhouses, duplexes, apartments and some single-family homes are reasonably priced for North Arlington only adds to the appeal.” [Washington Post]

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Man Arrested for Exposing Himself One Block from Police HQ

A man arrested and charged with exposing himself Friday night only had to make a very short trip to jail.

The incident happened just after 11:30 p.m. Police say a 27-year-old Arlington resident exposed his genitals to a woman on the 1400 block of N. Taft Street in Courthouse.

That’s just a block away from Arlington County Police headquarters and the county detention facility. The man was soon arrested and charged with indecent exposure.

More from an ACPD crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-05190357, 1400 block of N. Taft Street. At approximately 11:36 p.m. on May 19, officers responded to the report of an indecent exposure that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined a male subject allegedly exposed his genitals to a female victim. Airimis Arutiunian, 27, of Arlington VA, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. He was held on a secured bond.

Image via Google Maps

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Chief Deputy Paul Larson To Retire From County Sheriff’s Office

The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that Chief Deputy Paul Larson will retire from the department on June 2.

Larson joined the Sheriff’s Office in September 2008. He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Office and supervised its Administration, Corrections and Judicial Services Divisions.

Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Larson worked for the Arlington County Police Department from 1988-2008. With the police, he commanded the department’s Criminal Investigations Section, the Third Patrol District, the Special Operations Section and the Internal Affairs Section.

“Chief Deputy Larson has had a tremendous impact on the office during his tenure and I appreciate his commitment and dedication,” said Sheriff Beth Arthur in a statement. “He has been an impactful member of Arlington County public safety and the county during his 28+ years of service.”

Retired Major Dave Kidwell will succeed Larson as the next Chief Deputy. Kidwell spent more than 25 years in the Sheriff’s Office, and retired in September 2015 as Director of Corrections.

“His experience, character and loyalty to the Sheriff’s Office will make this transition as seamless as possible,” Sheriff’s Office representatives said in a statement. “He has the values, dedication and passion to continue the strong traditions of the office and understands the challenges that the law enforcement profession faces in the future.”

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Police: McLean Resident Suspected of DUI Kicked, Scratched Officers

A McLean woman arrested on suspicion of DUI is now facing additional charges after police say she became combative while being checked into the county jail.

The alleged incident happened in the booking room of the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse early Monday morning.

Marilyn McBay, 38, “assaulted an officer and deputy by scratching both on the face and kicking the officer in the chest,” according to police.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ASSAULT & BATTERY ON POLICE, 2017-04240008, 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. At approximately 12:25 a.m. on April 24, an officer on routine patrol conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven on a flat tire in the 1300 block of N. Stafford Street. The driver of the vehicle was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and was transported to the Arlington County Detention Facility for booking. While in booking, the suspect allegedly became combative and assaulted an officer and deputy by scratching both on the face and kicking the officer in the chest. Marilyn McBay, 38, of McLean, VA was charged with Assault and Battery on Police (x2), Driving Under the Influence, and Refusal of Breath/Blood Test. She was held without bail.

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Man Dies In Arlington County Jail

(Updated at 9:20 p.m.) A man died Thursday afternoon after being found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Bennie Turner, 40, was released Thursday at 10 a.m. on a court ordered furlough, for an ill family member. He returned from his authorized absence on time at 2 p.m, and returned to his unit just after 2:30 p.m.

Turner was found unconscious in his cell at 4:48 p.m. Deputies and medical staff tried to resuscitate him before the fire department arrived and transported Turner to the Virginia Hospital Center. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5:36 p.m.

His family was notified of his death late Thursday night.

An autopsy will be conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office and the death is being investigated by the Arlington County Police Department, per standard procedure.

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Morning Notes

Outdoor Christmas decorations (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

Sun Gazette Moving HQ to Falls Church — The Sun Gazette newspaper is moving its headquarters from McLean to the city of Falls Church. The paper, which has an Arlington edition and a McLean/Great Falls/Vienna/Oakton edition, has previously, under its current editor, had its headquarters in Dunn Loring, Alexandria and Springfield. [InsideNova]

Review of Synetic’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ — Crystal City-based physical theater company Synetic is performing its unique take on “Sleeping Beauty” through Jan. 8. It has received a laudatory review from Broadway World. “Every mimed motion, from a butterfly alighting on a hand to that fated spinning wheel wound, is flawlessly executed and transports audiences to a place beyond imagination,” the publication wrote. [Broadway World]

Children of Inmates Receive Gifts — The annual “Project Christmas Angel” initiative has distributed more than 1,100 gifts this year to nearly 400 children whose parents will be locked up in the Arlington County jail or in state prisons over the holidays. The project also supports kids who have a parent that was recently released from incarceration. [InsideNova]

Final ‘Around Arlington’ of 2016 — The final episode of the county-produced Around Arlington television segment features updates on the Four Mile Run Valley initiative, humanitarian award winners and plans for 2017. [YouTube]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Morning Notes

Storm clouds rolling in over the Potomac

Former Mansion Owner is In Jail — Rodney Hunt, the man who once owned the $23 million Arlington mansion that’s being used to throw large parties (and which was recently sold at a foreclosure auction), is currently in the Arlington County jail. Hunt was ordered to spend 90 days in jail earlier this month for violating his parole. An attorney says Hunt doesn’t know anything about the parties. [Washington Post]

Tourists Can’t Handle the Heat at the Cemetery — Anytime it gets sufficiently toasty outside, medical calls to Arlington National Cemetery become frequent. Tourists at the cemetery regularly suffer heat-related ailments that require paramedic dispatches during the summer. The cemetery is advising visitors to wear sunscreen and bring a bottle of water during the warm weather months. [Twitter]

Airbnb Is Costing Arlington Tax Revenue — Arlington County has yet to figure out a good way to get those renting out their homes on Airbnb to pay the county’s 5.25 percent lodging tax, which is paid by hotels and should be paid by Airbnb hosts. “Very few of the folks who should be paying taxes have stepped up to fork over the money,” reports Michael Pope. [WVTF]

Art Murals in Crystal City — Crystal City has more than two dozen outdoor art murals, implemented by the Crystal City Business Improvement District. The murals are part of an effort to “visually revitalize the area,” which is noted for being something of a concrete canyon. [Curbed]

Teacher Salaries By School — A list shows the average teacher salary, by school, at Arlington Public Schools. Topping the list is Kenmore Middle School, at $80,411. At the bottom of the list is the Arlington Mill high school program, at $61,731. [Patch]

APS Finance Chief Wins Award — Leslie Peterson, the assistant superintendent for finance and management at Arlington Public Schools, is one of three officials in the U.S. to receive the 2016 Pinnacle of Achievement Award from the Association of School Business Officials International. [InsideNova]

Amtrak Police Chief Shared Apartment With ‘Alleged Boyfriend’ — Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hanson, who’s under investigation for fraud and conflict of interest, reportedly shared an Arlington apartment with her “alleged boyfriend,” a senior director at a contractor that Amtrak hired under Hanson’s supervision. The two also are said to have co-owned a condo in Dewey Beach, Del. [Washington Post]

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Jailed Fathers Allowed Father’s Day Visit With Children

Arlington County JailFathers in the Arlington County jail will be granted an opportunity to spend time with their children during the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office annual Incarcerated Fathers Program on Monday (June 20).

“This event allows male inmates a once-a-year opportunity to actually come in contact with their children,” said Sheriff Beth Arthur, in a press release. “It is designed to strengthen and encourage positive relationships between fathers and their children, and to help lessen the impact and effects of separation.”

The event has been held around Father’s Day for the last four years. It is the only time during the year that male inmates are permitted physical contact with their children.

This year’s program will have an aquarium theme. The children will make themed crafts while enjoying dinner with their fathers, allowing them quality time to bond with their children.

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Morning Notes

23rd Street and and Aurora Highlands seen from the future WeWork offices in Crystal City

Boards Cooperate on Stratford History — The Arlington County Board voted yesterday to collaborate with the School Board on a historic designation for the Stratford school, cutting the sometimes meddlesome Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board out of the process to save time and money. Said County Board Chair Mary Hynes: “There is perhaps no building in Arlington more worthy of historic designation than Stratford — both for the seminal events that occurred there in 1959 and the unique architecture of the building.” [InsideNova, Arlington County]

Police: Inmate’s Death Due to Natural Causes — A 53-year-old man who died while being held at the Arlington County jail in October died of natural causes, according to Arlington County Police. Detectives determined that Edward Straughn had an “extensive history of medical issues.” He was originally arrested for being drunk in public. Straughn’s death was the second in-custody death for Arlington in 2015. [Arlington County]

Land Purchase Agreement With Hospital Approved  The Arlington County Board last night voted to approve an option agreement that would allow Virginia Hospital Center to buy 5.5 acres of county-owned property next to its campus for a minimum of $12.5 million. The eventual purchase may include cash and/or a land swap. [Arlington County]

Fundraiser for Local Dad Who Died Suddenly — Nathan Graham, the father of four young sons and a volunteer bishop at the LDS church in Crystal City, died unexpectedly while on a business trip to China. An online fundraiser to help support Graham’s family has raised more than $95,000. [YouCaring]

History Task Force Makes Final Recommendations — Arlington County’s History Task Force has presented its final recommendations to the County Board. The task force says Arlington should devote resources to better preserving Arlington’s history, including via the development of a unified digital archive. [Arlington County]

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