Seven Arlington County police officers have died in the line of duty over the last 83 years, and county law enforcement and civic leaders took a few moments to remember their sacrifice Friday (May 11).
The county held its annual observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day at the Arlington County Justice Center Plaza (1425 N. Courthouse Road), inviting dozens of law enforcement officers and Arlington leaders to pay tribute to fallen officers across the country.
Participants in the ceremony offered wreaths and roses at the county’s monument to its officers who have died on the job, with a special observance for Corporal Harvey Snook, who died of cancer he contracted while working in recovery efforts at the Pentagon in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The son of Officer George Pomraning, who was shot to death while bringing a prisoner to jail on Sept. 2, 1973, also attended the ceremony.
County Police Chief M. Jay Farr urged attendees to consider what more they can do to prevent the killing of police, putting a particular focus on one of the leading causes of line of duty deaths: gun violence.
“Many officers who are shot are dealing with people who are not of sound mind,” Farr said. “We all need to think about what we can do to address this growing national mental health crisis.”
Yet Craig Floyd, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, suggested that the country as a whole was making some progress in that area. He pointed out that the 129 officers to died on the job in 2017 represented the second-smallest figure since 1959.
“We’ve done a lot, but we have a long way to go,” Floyd said.
The county ceremony coincides with the start of National Police Week, a series of events around D.C. from May 13-19 to honor fallen officers. A full schedule of events is available online.
Arlington County Police will soon spend less time handing out traffic tickets, investigating minor offenses and attending community events, as the department moves ahead with a major restructuring effort.
The department announced Tuesday that it plans to start re-allocating its resources on Sunday (May 13) in order to compensate for the county’s struggles in hiring enough officers.
Police Chief M. Jay Farr first revealed some of these restructuring plans in an internal memo this February, noting that the department was 50 officers short of the 370 it’s authorized to employ to maintain current service levels. In a video released by the department Tuesday to detail the coming changes, Farr stressed that county police are “not moving away from the core, fundamental agreements we have with the community” and won’t be making any cuts to services like 911 response or investigations of serious crimes.
Farr did say, however, that the department will likely need to divert some of its officers away from traffic enforcement efforts — including the investigation of traffic-related complaints from residents — and investigations of smaller crimes, such as larcenies, minor hit and runs and other misdemeanors.
“We are not abandoning how we police,” Farr said. “We’re trimming it for a while, and we intend to do this on a temporary basis.”
Farr stressed that each incident’s “solvability factor” will impact just how quickly the department pursues investigations of more minor offenses, with violent crimes taking priority. He added that his officers might not be able to devote quite as much time to avoiding arrests related to public drunkenness in neighborhoods like Clarendon, where police have generally favored preventing major disruptions over simply arresting every person they can.
“We want to maintain that contact with the community and we don’t want the arrests to be the solution, but that requires people,” Farr said. “It actually requires more effort in prevention work and coordinated efforts with our partners.”
Additionally, Farr plans to consolidate the department’s outreach efforts into a single “community resources section.” The department previously divided Arlington into three “districts,” with officers assigned to each one to address community concerns.
That means county officers will no longer attend regular meetings with each civic association throughout Arlington; rather, Farr says the department will organize quarterly meetings for communities in the northern and southern halves of the county, respectively. Farr is also calling off the department’s annual block party, and he plans to reduce the frequency of other outreach events like “Coffee with a Cop.”
“It’ll be a little less contact, a little less people,” Farr said.
Farr stressed that the department is “very aggressively” pursuing new recruits to ensure that these changes don’t become permanent — notably, the County Board recently agreed to increase police salaries in its new budget, following persistent complaints by the police union that pay rates in the county helped precipitate the current staffing squeeze.
But Farr also noted that the new hires will take time to train and get out on the streets, so he’s asking for patience as these changes take effect.
“We’re going to keep exploring this over the next few months,” Farr said. “We’re going to see where we go with it, we’re going to keep working on it.”
Twelve officers from the Arlington County Police Department will be deployed to Puerto Rico to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria.
The officers will deploy in three staggered teams from tomorrow (Friday, November 10) until December 18. The teams will spend 16 days each in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico requested assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which is the national emergency management mutual aid system that facilitates state-to-state disaster assistance.
“I am proud that our officers are willing to dedicate their time to provide the citizens of Puerto Rico with an added sense of security in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” Police Chief Jay Farr said in a statement. “Our officers take an oath to serve and protect and their willingness to deploy shows their commitment and dedication, not just to the Arlington County community, but to citizens everywhere.”
With schools set to welcome students for the new year this coming Tuesday, Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are urging everyone to stay safe on the roads.
Police will conduct highly visible traffic enforcement around county schools starting that day, while electronic message boards placed next to the roads will remind everyone of the start of school.
To ensure everyone’s safety, police reminded drivers to:
- Obey speed limits which may change during school zone times.
- Avoid distracted driving and keep your attention on the road.
- Watch for students walking and riding bikes to school.
- Don’t pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers.
- On a two-lane road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
- On a multi-lane paved across road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
- On a divided highway, vehicles behind the bus must stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction may proceed with caution.
- Have all vehicle occupants wear their seat belts.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 29, 2017
Students, bicyclists, and pedestrians are reminded to:
- Cross the street at marked crosswalks and never against a red light.
- Look before you cross and follow the direction of school crossing guards.
- Always walk on designated sidewalks or paths, never along the side of a road.
And for general safety, students and parents are reminded to:
- Ensure students know their address and phone number.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Whenever possible, walk or bike with another person. Stay in well-lit areas.
- Limit the use of devices that may distract you.
- Avoid engaging with or answering questions from strangers.
- If something occurs that makes you feel unsafe, report the incident immediately to an adult such as a parent, guardian, principal, teacher or school resource officer.
- Parents and guardians are encouraged to roleplay possible situations with students and discuss personal safety and awareness tips.
In a video (below) released by APS, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Police Chief Jay Farr and School Resource Officer supervisor Lt. Susan Noack, the three urge being safe, like staying within speed limits, avoiding distracted driving and looking out for students on bicycles or on foot.
The trio also encouraged parents practice looking both ways at crosswalks before crossing the street, as well as having a buddy to walk with.
More on Texas Jack’s BBQ — Texas Jack’s Barbecue, which is replacing the former Tallula and EatBar in Lyon Park, will be helmed by a pair of Hill Country BBQ vets. The 145-seat restaurant will also have a 26-seat patio. It will serve meats that are smoked on site and plans to remain open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. [Washingtonian]
CEO’s $3.7 Million Rosslyn Condo — Gracia Martore, the former CEO of Gannett and current CEO of the newspaper company’s broadcast and digital spinoff, Tegna, has purchased a condo in Rosslyn for $3.65 million. The 4,447 square foot condo in Turnberry Tower (1881 N. Nash Street) features a 900 square foot outdoor balcony with sweeping views of D.C. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Chief Prioritizes Community Engagement — New Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr says he will make community engagement one of his top priorities. Farr plans to “realign how we do business a little bit,” adding more interaction with residents, he told the local Kiwanis Club. [InsideNova]
Arlington Arts Center Director Departs — Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Arlington Arts Center, is leaving her position next month to head the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. AAC’s Director of Exhibitions will take over as Acting Executive Director while the organization’s board searches for Fedor’s permanent replacement. [Patch]
Rosslyn Employer Leaving for D.C. — The American Psychiatric Association, currently based at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, has signed a lease at The Wharf project on the Southwest D.C. waterfront. The association has about 250 employees. It is expected to move in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan announced today that acting chief Jay Farr will ascend to the permanent job after serving in Scott’s stead since March. Farr has previously served as deputy county manager and deputy chief of police for systems management, operations and criminal Investigations, and has served in the ACPD since 1990.
“Jay has demonstrated a commitment to excellence during his more than two decades in Arlington,” Donnellan said in a press release. “He brings strong leadership skills, an outstanding professional background, and a true passion for connecting communities with law enforcement. He is the right man to lead the department into the future.”
Donnellan said she conducted a nationwide search, but determined the right person for the job already had it. Farr is a former U.S. Marine who served on the presidential helicopter detail before becoming a police officer.
“I am honored at the opportunity to lead this great department and will maintain an unwavering commitment to community policing,” Farr said in the release. “I strive to instill a sense of teamwork with our communities, officers and regional law enforcement partners.”
In addition to leading the county’s police, he’s also teaching future officers: he’s an adjunct professor of criminal justice at George Mason University and teaches for the University of Phoenix.
Photo via Arlington County