Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Transit Union Gets Its Money Back from Dorsey — “Union verifies (to me, 5 minutes ago) that it has received [embattled County Board member Christian Dorsey’s] repayment of $10,000 campaign donation.” [Twitter]

Board Advances Reeves Farmhouse Plan — “The [Reeves] farmhouse will be preserved and protected as a historic site, the parkland around the house will stay as parkland, and the County will get much needed housing for people with developmental disabilities without our taxpayers footing the bill. It’s a win-win-win.” [Arlington County]

Va. Legislature OKs Amazon Delivery Bots — “Amazon.com Inc. package delivery robots could soon hit Virginia’s sidewalks and roadways. The General Assembly has made quick work of a bill that would clear the way for Scout, Amazon’s six-wheeled delivery robot, to operate in the commonwealth.” [Washington Business Journal]

Airport Helper Service to Launch Tomorrow — “Goodbye, airport chaos… SkySquad is launching this week at Reagan Airport to improve the airport experience for anyone who needs an extra hand. Travel is stressful for most people, especially families with young kids; and senior citizens who need extra support.” [Press Release]

A Look at Arlington’s Oldest Families — A series of articles profiling long-time local families takes a look at the Parks, the Shreves, the Smiths, the Syphaxes, the Birches and the Thomases. [Arlington Magazine]

Sheriff’s Office Welcomes New K-9 — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office recently welcomed its newest K-9 officer – Logan, a one-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador retriever who is paired with handler Cpl. Matthew Camardi. The duo will work in narcotics detection and other specialized fields. [InsideNova]

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Arlington County Police K-9 units will be deployed to Arlington’s public high schools as the school system addresses what some see as a worsening drug problem.

During the last few weeks of the school year and throughout the summer, the dogs will patrol secondary schools after hours to try to sniff out illegal drugs.

Described as a “proactive measure” in a letter to parents, sent today (Thursday), the searches come at a time when parents are becoming increasingly alarmed about the presence of drugs in middle and high schools.

“I have two children in middle school and have heard of numerous times this year alone of students overdosing on prescription drugs on school grounds or having drugs on school grounds,” one Arlington Public Schools parent said in an email to ARLnow.com.

“Drugs in APS middle and high schools are a real problem,” said an APS employee, who wished to remain anonymous. “Administrators are quick to sweep the drug problems under the rug so it won’t make the school look bad. Do the police warn drug dealers of a raid before the raid? I’m a concerned parent, tax paying citizen and an employee of APS.”

In an email to staff yesterday afternoon, obtained by ARLnow.com, Washington-Lee High School Principal Dr. Gregg Robertson acknowledged that Arlington “has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances.”

As many of you may be aware, Arlington, like many areas of the country, has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances. Over the course of the past year, APS staff worked closely with a number of county agencies to respond to this uptick and to ensure that our schools continue to be safe spaces for students and staff. One of the new measures that will be implemented to help minimize the presence of illegal substances in the schools is the use of the Arlington Police Department K-9 unit. Beginning later this month, the police will come to each of the high schools with the K-9 units to search for drugs. The searches will take place in the evening after students and staff have left.

APS has been communicating this information to families, and all high schools will make an announcement tomorrow (Thursday) morning. I wanted you to be aware of this initiative as I am sure students may have questions.

The drug dogs will only patrol high schools, not middle schools, according to APS.

At least one middle school principal downplayed the extent of the “drug problem” at her school. In an email sent to parents on Monday, Williamsburg Middle School principal Connie Skelton said the problem was limited to “a small cohort of students.”

I’ve had some questions about the “drug problem” at Williamsburg. I want to assure you that this is not a widespread problem, however, we do share your concern. In our school, there is a small cohort of students we are carefully following for drug related issues. If you have any information you would like to share with me, please give me a call.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said the school system is taking measures to keep students safe in the face of a nationwide upswing in drug use.

“Substance abuse and opioid use is a growing problem both in our region and across the U.S.,” said Bellavia. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we are taking steps to make sure that our students are safe and that our schools remain drug free. We also want to make sure that parents are aware and having conversations with their children at home.”

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Morning Notes

Vihstadt Wants Ads Atop Aquatics Center — County government could raise some extra money by placing corporate logos atop the future Long Bridge Park aquatics center, which could be seen by those flying in and out of Reagan National Airport, says County Board member John Vihstadt. He is also pushing the idea of ads on ART buses, transit stops and Capital Bikeshare stations. [InsideNova]

Pupatella Named Best Pizza in Va. — The expanding Pupatella Pizza has been named the best pizza in Virginia again, this time by USA Today. The Bluemont pizzeria will celebrate its seventh anniversary on Saturday. [USA Today]

Plaudits for The Bartlett — The Bartlett, an amenity-filled, 699-unit apartment tower in Pentagon City, has been named the year’s best residential project by the Washington Business Journal. The building, the design of which was “inspired by buildings in New York City,” leased up so quickly that plans for a “pop-up hotel” utilizing vacant units had to be pulled back. [Washington Business Journal]

Pebley Recognized for Civic Leadership — Jim Pebley was honored with a resolution of thanks from the Arlington County Republican Committee this past Wednesday. Pebley, who never ran for office but has a long resume of civic service in Arlington, is retiring to North Carolina this summer. “It is safe to say Jim Pebley is one of the most active citizens in Arlington, and has been for decades,” said one well-wisher. “[He is] extremely well-respected across the political spectrum.” [InsideNova]

Condo Resident Opposes VRE Expansion — In a WaPo op-ed, a condo resident who lives next to the VRE station in Crystal City says he opposes the planned expansion of the station because it will “will mar our precious green space” and “derail the lives of Crystal City residents through more noise and possible destruction of property during station construction.” [Washington Post]

Nearby: Threats to Falls Church Abortion Clinic — A building housing an abortion clinic in Falls Church was evacuated twice yesterday due to perceived threats. In the first instance, someone set off fireworks in the building’s elevator; in the second, someone stamped the word “bomb” on pieces of paper found near the rear entrance. An Arlington County Police K-9 unit assisted with the investigation “because F.C. police’s own K-9 unit is still in training.” [Falls Church News-Press, DCist]

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Police car (file photo)Police are investigating a reported armed robbery that prompted a lot of law enforcement activity in the Cherrydale neighborhood early Wednesday morning.

Arlington County police officers responded to the 1500 block of N. Quincy Street around 12:30 a.m. after two male suspects reportedly approached three victims who had been walking in the area.

One of the suspects brandished a gun and demanded the victims’ belongings, according to police.

Police say the suspects took off on foot so they brought in an ACPD K-9 unit to track them. Fairfax County Police assisted with the search by sending a helicopter.

The suspects were not apprehended and the investigation is ongoing. From an ACPD crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 1500 block of N. Quincy Street. At approximately 12:25 a.m. on December 28, officers responded to the report of an armed robbery. Three victims were walking in the area when they were approached from behind by two male suspects. One of the suspects brandished a firearm and demanded the victims’ belongings. The suspects then fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction. A K9 track and an aerial observation assisted by Fairfax County Police helicopter were negative. The first suspect is described as a black male approximately 6’0″ tall, wearing all black with a black bandana over his face. The second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’5″ tall, with a slim build. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. The investigation is ongoing.

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Police car (file photo)A Maryland man is in jail after police say he kicked and punched a police dog while burglarizing a restaurant in Clarendon.

The incident happened just before 3:30 a.m. Saturday, on the 3200 block of Wilson Blvd.

Police say 24-year-old Christian Taylor, of New Carrollton, forced entry into a restaurant and struck an employee in the face as part of a burglary. Police were called and arrived while the man was still inside the business.

“The subject ignored [an] officer’s commands to exit the business,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “Following several announcements by police that were unanswered by the suspect, a K9 was deployed. The suspect kicked and punched the K9. Officers were able to take the combative subject into custody.”

Taylor has been charged with burglary, destruction of property, assault on a police dog, obstruction of justice and assault and battery.

Police did not specify the name of the restaurant, but there are only two on the 3200 block of Wilson Blvd: Silver Diner and Northside Social.

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Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is helping to buy protective vests for Arlington’s hard-working police dogs.

Roethlisberger’s foundation will be distributing a grant to Arlington County Police in order to purchase ballistic vests for the department’s seven K-9s. Roethlisberger and the Steelers will be playing the Washington Redskins on Monday.

“During the 2016 NFL season, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will be distributing grants to K-9 units of police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers,” said the quarterback’s website. “The Foundation will also distribute several grants to the Pittsburgh area. Ben invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.”

“Our K-9s are integral members of the Arlington County Police Department, both in the field and from a community outreach perspective,” ACPD Chief Jay Farr said in a statement. “We are grateful to receive this grant so we can provide our K-9s with ballistic vests as an added layer of protection to keep them safe.”

Last season the Roethlisberger Foundation made more than $170,000 in grants to K-9 units across the country. Roethlisberger has pledged $1,000 to the foundation for every touchdown he throws this season and is seeking additional donations from fans.

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K-9 Toby, a retired Arlington County Police dog, has unexpectedly passed away, the department announced on Twitter today.

Toby served Arlington from 2008-2013.

This is, unfortunately, at least the third Arlington K-9 to die early in recent years. In 2013, K-9 Dutch become suddenly ill and passed away while on the force. A year before that, K-9 Lobo passed away shortly after retiring.

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Morning Notes

View of Courthouse in the background, seen from the Fort Myer Officers Club

Arlington K-9s to Retire With Handlers — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously voted to officially sanction the transfer of ownership of retiring law enforcement K-9 officers to their handlers, thus allowing police dogs to live out their lives with their long-time partners. [NBC Washington, Arlington County]

Big Changes Coming to Crystal City Building — The U.S. Marshals Service is consolidating its offices into one Crystal City office building. That will leave another Crystal City office building, 1750 Crystal Drive, vacant. Owner Vornado is planning a big facelift for the building, with more glass and steel and less concrete on the outside. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington, Falls Church Renew Service Agreement — Arlington County will continue to provide court, jail, fire department and other services to the City of Falls Church, under a new agreement approved by the Arlington County Board on Saturday. Fall Church will pay Arlington just over $1 million per year for the services. [Arlington County]

McAuliffe to Start Marine Corps Marathon — Next weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon will be officially started by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. [Twitter]

M.J. Stewart Suspended at UNC — Former Yorktown High School football standout M.J. Stewart has been suspended from the University of North Carolina football team after being charged with assault in connection to an off-campus altercation. Stewart, a sophomore, had been a starting cornerback on the team. [Associated Press]

Resident to County: Cover Sandboxes — A Shirlington resident spoke before the County Board on Saturday to raise concern about uncovered sandboxes. She urged county officials to keep sandboxes covered when not in use, to keep pets and disease out. [InsideNova]

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Varius, a 13-year-old black lab, is retiring from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office tomorrow after 11 years of service as a narcotics-sniffing K-9 officer.

The dog “will remain in the care of Deputy Patrick Grubar, who has been his partner since teaming up at the U.S. Customs Service K-9 Training Academy in 2004,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “The duo shared in the Arlington County Crime Solvers 2013 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.”

Varius, who’s a senior citizen in dog years, “plans to spend his days watching Animal Planet with his pug ‘little sister’ and keeping up with fans on his Facebook account.”

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Police car (file photo)An Arlington County Police K-9 took a bite out of crime Monday night following a car chase on the GW Parkway.

Around 9:30 p.m., on the southbound lanes of the parkway near Route 123, U.S. Park Police began chasing two suspects driving recklessly in a stolen vehicle, according to Park Police spokeswoman Lelani Woods.

The vehicle pursuit ended on the ramp to Key Bridge when the suspects lost control of the car, wrecked and fled on foot.

Arlington County officers, a K-9 unit and the Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter assisted with the ensuing search for the suspects near Rosslyn. The police dog — K-9 “Hugo” — was able to track and apprehend one of the suspects.

The suspect was taken into custody and checked out by paramedics for a bite wound, said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

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A 9-year-old boy wearing an Arlington County Police Department t-shirt may not seem like a symbol of authority. But for today, he is.

This morning Police Chief M. Douglas Scott swore in Patrick Omberg, the winner of the inaugural “Chief-for-the-Day” essay competition.

“Today is National Night Out, so Patrick you’re going to work until about 10:00 or 11:00 tonight,” Scott joked during his speech at the ceremony.

Outside the police department in Courthouse, 9-year-old Patrick Omberg took an honorary police oath, read an excerpt of his winning essay and received a commemorative plaque before standing for pictures with police and his parents.

On July 8, the Arlington County Police Department announced the contest, which they plan to hold every year from now on. ACPD asked for essay submissions from children, ages 8 to 12, that answered the question: “What does it mean to be a police officer?”

“Based on his essay, it was a pretty easy selection for us,” ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. “Even at 9 years old, he seemed to have a good understanding of the police and for our role in the community.”

Omberg said that he wrote about how “the police keep people safe” in his essay, and although he doesn’t know if he wants to be a police officer, he was having fun as an honorary chief. He didn’t have to wrangle drunken pub-crawlers or chase down criminals, but Omberg did get a glimpse at the inner workings of the police department.

“We wanted to show him what life in the Arlington County Police Department could be like,” Sternbeck said. “We want to build positive relationships in the community. It’s been a great experience for us just as much as [it has been] for him.”

Before the ceremony, police picked up Omberg from his house in a patrol car and guided him on a tour of the police station, where they took his fingerprints and introduced him to their K-9 unit.

“My favorite part was seeing the dogs,” Omberg said.

“Do you remember what his name was?” Omberg’s father, Peter, asked his son.

“Drogo,” Omberg said, although the rising fourth-grader didn’t seem to get the “Game Of Thrones” reference in the name.

To cap off his day, Omberg would look at the station’s booking department with the sheriffs and have lunch with Scott, Sternbeck said.

“I can use all the help I can get,” Scott said at the ceremony. “So having someone like you help me [for today], is very much appreciated.”

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