Police Make Numerous DUI Arrests — From the Arlington County Police Department: “ACPD Officers are committed to making our roadways safer by identifying, stopping, and apprehending impaired drivers. Last week (September 12 – 18), officers made 16 arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Motorists are reminded that it is never okay to drink and drive.” [Twitter]
ACPD Warning of Tainted Cocaine — “Please take steps to protect yourself and others who may be in possession of cocaine purchased in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The nasal spray Narcan (also known as Naloxone) can save the life of someone who is overdosing from substances containing opioids, if given in time, and test strips can detect dangerous fentanyl-laced drugs before they are used.” [Arlington County]
Man Stabbed Near Columbia Pike — ” The investigation revealed that at approximately 1:15 a.m., the victim was walking in the area when he was pushed from behind by the unknown suspect and fell to the ground. The suspect then brandished a knife and demanded money from the victim before stabbing him and stealing his wallet. The suspect fled the scene on foot and the victim returned to his residence before determining he was in need of medical services.” [ACPD]
Gusty Storm Yesterday Afternoon — “A 39 mph wind gust was recorded at National Airport with the storm that passed through Arlington earlier this afternoon, per the National Weather Service.” [Twitter]
Power Outages After Wednesday’s Storm — “More than 1,000 homes and businesses are currently without power in Arlington. The largest outage is affecting the area around Kenmore Middle School.” [Twitter]
School Bond Funds New ‘Heights’ Entrance — “A new entrance to the Shriver Program, which is collocated with H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Rosslyn, is needed to make it easier for those with disabilities to access the building and the parking lot… More funds are need to permit ‘the completion of a design that we had intended in the first place – complete it the right way,’ Kanninen said. The $11.39 million project accounts for nearly half the proposed $23 million school bond that goes to voters on Nov. 2.” [Sun Gazette]
Klobuchar to Canvass in Arlington Sunday — “Join us for a Weekend of Action canvass in Arlington with Senator Amy Klobuchar & Governor Terry McAuliffe! We’ll be talking with our neighbors about the issues that are important to them — and why Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, Mark Herring, and Alfonso Lopez are the right people to move Virginia forward in 2021.” [Mobilize]
Update to Metro Story — A report from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission suggests that the person who fell from a train while walking between railcars near the Clarendon station was the son of a WMATA employee. He was able to continue on to Tysons but suffered significant injuries, was bleeding heavily and was later hospitalized. [ARLnow]
The police department is not the only county department with staffing reportedly in steep decline.
The number of emergency behavioral health clinicians in the Department of Human Services is also in free fall, as 13 members of the 26-person staff have departed in the last year, County Manager Mark Schwartz told the County Board during its Tuesday afternoon meeting. Existing staff cannot cover all the shifts and contractors are being used to fill in the gaps.
County officials say these clinical jobs are complex and demanding, have higher expectations and require significant training. In response, folks are leaving for jobs with better benefits and working conditions.
But they also pin this trend on a decision the Commonwealth made this summer to close more than half of its state-run mental hospitals to new admissions amid its own workforce crisis. Without these beds, people in crisis are “warehoused” at Virginia Hospital Center, and in some cases sedated and handcuffed to gurneys, Schwartz said, grimacing.
“We cannot afford not to take action,” said Director of Human Services Anita Friedman. “I have always viewed most of our clinicians, but especially our emergency clinicians, as non-uniformed public safety. They don’t wear badge, or a gun, but they are in as much danger, oftentimes, as public safety without really the same level of benefits. Without a strong emergency services staff, competent and equipped to deal with people, you’ll see an increase in suicide, homicide and all kinds of community problems.”
The short staffing hurts the Arlington County Police Department, as some officers end up spending most of their shifts in the hospital emergency room with these patients, reducing the officers available to respond to calls.
“I know I’m speaking in somewhat dire tones,” Schwartz said. “I feel like the situation is really critical.”
He asked the County Board to consider setting aside $3 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding — intended for Covid-related needs — for bonuses. Schwartz said he wanted to gauge the Board’s support before bringing forward a fully-baked plan.
“We’re fully with you on moving forward with this,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said. “Thank you for bringing this forward. While we want to understand the fiscal details, let’s move forward and address this. There’s a through-line between our police department and our mental health services, and with respect to staffing, that’s what we have to move quickly and the Board is ready to do that with you.”
This situation is coming to a head amid calls from the community and the County Board to transition police officers away from mental health calls. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota last year, Arlington County convened a Police Practices Group, which drafted about 100 ways to reform ACPD, including detangling officers from intervening in these cases.
The approved Fiscal Year 2022 budget even included funding for an enhanced mental health crisis response program.
But now, Police Chief Andy Penn says the police are more entangled with mental health calls than ever.
“We certainly supported where the police department should do less with mental health, but I think we’re doing more than we have in some time,” he said. “The need is to help people get the care and treatment they need, but it is a big, broad conversation that goes beyond the police department.”
In a statement provided to County Board members prior to the meeting, the Arlington Coalition of Police said officers overwhelmingly share the community’s desire to limit the interactions police have with those in mental crisis.
“But as is commonly the case, when the community has a problem few others want to address, it turns to the police,” the statement said.
Police are looking for a pair of suspects after a man was stabbed in the Buckingham neighborhood Sunday night.
The stabbing happened around 9:30 p.m. at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Thomas Street, several blocks south of Ballston.
A witness told investigators that two men pushed the victim up against a parked vehicle and stabbed him with a knife. The stabbing followed an argument that turned physical, the witness said.
Officers rendered aid to the victim, who is expected to be okay, according to the Arlington County Police Department. The suspects fled and, as of Monday afternoon’s ACPD crime report, remain at large.
More from the crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2021-09190174, N. Pershing Drive at N. Thomas Street. At approximately 9:37 p.m. on September 19, police were dispatched to the report of an assault with a weapon just occurred. Upon arrival, officers located the victim who had sustained stab wounds and began rendering aid until the arrival of medics. The victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries and, refused to provide information to police pertaining to the incident. During the course of the investigation, officers made contact with a witness who stated that he was driving in the area when he noticed three individuals arguing and pushing each other. The witness called out to the group and observed Suspect One and Suspect Two push the victim up against a parked vehicle. Suspect Two then brandished a knife and stabbed the victim. The two suspects then fled the scene prior to the arrival of police. A search of the area for the suspects concluded with negative results. Suspect One is described as a short Hispanic male with a buzz cut, wearing a light colored tank top and blue pants. Suspect Two is described as a short Hispanic male, approximately 5’3″, wearing a dark colored hat with a goatee, baggy pants and carrying a backpack. The investigation is ongoing.
(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) The number of sworn police officers on the streets in Arlington has dipped below 300 amid retirements and officers leaving for more lucrative positions, including at Amazon’s HQ2.
Multiple sources within the department have expressed concern about the shrinking police force, telling ARLnow that officer morale is low and stagnant wages have led many to consider leaving. Among those departing is a deputy chief, said to be among a number of officers who have taken security jobs at HQ2.
“There is a mass exodus from within the Arlington County Police Department,” said one of several people inside the department who have reached out to ARLnow, on the condition of anonymity. “Many officers are leaving for better paying positions in the private sector, including Amazon HQ2… the county hasn’t provided a pay raise in roughly three years.”
“The police department is currently severely understaffed,” said another tipster. “Morale is extremely low. Based on survey results, another 40+ officers plan to leave before the end of the year. I hate to say it, but the police department is a sinking ship right now.”
ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage acknowledged that while the overall number of officers is little changed since a 2018 restructuring prompted by staffing challenges then, the number of sworn officers actually out on patrol is, in fact, down at the moment — and below the 300 mark.
“ACPD’s authorized strength is 376 sworn officers with 10 of those positions frozen during the FY 2022 budget,” Savage said. “Currently, our on-board sworn staff is 346 officers. Functionally, we are operating below this number as approximately 45 members are in a training status to become a solo police officer and 10 are on light-duty assignments due to medical needs.”
Savage noted that police departments across the country are facing staffing challenges amid the pandemic and in the wake of anti-police-violence protests last summer following the killing of George Floyd.
“Law enforcement agencies across our region and the U.S. are struggling to retain qualified police officers and finding it equally challenging to recruit new members to the profession,” she said. “Here in Arlington, the police department completed a strategic restructuring in 2018 due to a significant reduction in our workforce. Since then, we have been successful in hiring larger classes of recruit officers, but this has not offset the number of departures due to attrition, retirements and officers seeking other opportunities.”
“The department continues to prioritize core services by responding to in-progress crimes and emergency calls for service where there is an immediate threat to life, health or property; investigating crimes against people and serious property crimes; and engaging and building community partnerships with those we serve,” Savage said. “There are currently 23 recruit officers in training who will be released to solo patrol at the beginning of November. At that time, we will review our allocation of resources to determine if they meet current staffing requirements.”
But officers are continuing to leave the department, sources tell ARLnow.
At least two officers announced their resignation since Wednesday night, we’re told. A recent survey conducted by Arlington’s police union found that nearly 100 officers — about 40% of respondents — are planning to leave ACPD within a year.
One department source called the figure “staggering.”
The Arlington County Police Department has been asked to assist U.S. Capitol Police with security during a planned rally this weekend.
The “Justice for J6” rally, which being held in support of those charged after the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by a large pro-Trump mob, is set to take place Saturday at noon on the west side of the Capitol grounds.
ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed to ARLnow Wednesday evening that the department has received a mutual aid request to provide additional security at the Capitol on Saturday.
“The Arlington County Police Department has received a request from the United States Capitol Police Department to provide assistance for planned events September 18, 2021, in Washington D.C.,” Savage said. “Arlington County Police will honor this request and provide officers to assist our regional law enforcement partners in maintaining peace and order in the event of a significant disturbance or unrest.”
“Inter-agency partnerships are an important tool in ensuring public safety during large scale events and our top priority remains ensuring the safety of residents, businesses and visitors of the region,” Savage added. She declined to say how many officers will be sent to the District, saying ACPD does not reveal information that is “tactical in nature.”
Arlington police in riot gear previously assisted at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department later presented its Ribbon of Valor to 65 Arlington cops and firefighters who responded to the District on that day.
Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are hashing out their new working relationship following the School Board’s decision to remove School Resource Officers from school grounds.
Rather than place officers in school buildings, ACPD has formed an off-site Youth Outreach Unit tasked with developing engagement opportunities for and building relationships with kids. This summer, the Arlington School Board became the second in the region to remove SROs from school grounds out of concern for racial disparities in juvenile arrests.
While the new unit builds up its presence, ACPD and Arlington Public Schools are discussing their respective roles in maintaining school safety, which will be outlined in a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
“We are meeting with the Youth Outreach Officers now to determine how they will interact with students and schools during the school year,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said. “We are also beginning the process developing the new MOU ACPD/APS MOU. As part of that process, we are creating focus groups with school-based staff and administrators to further discuss the future of our SRO relationship with the shared goals of best serving our students, schools, parents and the broader community.”
Work on the new MOU began on Aug. 30, according to APS. A final draft will be posted for review on Nov. 1, at which point the community will have 15 days to provide feedback on it.
Currently, ACPD’s Youth Outreach Unit has four corporals, two sergeants and a lieutenant who also oversees the Community Outreach Units, ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said. Two team members were previously School Resource Officers.
“The [Youth Outreach Unit] team was selected following a standard internal process, open to all members of the department who hold the rank of officer or corporal,” Clark said.
The unit has fewer than half the 17 officers once assigned to the SRO unit, according to a March 2021 presentation.
Members were assigned to the unit in August and have started attending community events, including the Community Conversations with the Chief and the Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K Race, Clark said.
“While attending community events and conducting proactive engagement on a daily basis, members of the Youth Outreach unit regularly seek to have meaningful conversations, answer questions, and build relationships with community members,” Clark said.
Feedback from the community conversations will inform the Youth Outreach Unit’s “specific programs, mission and objectives,” she said.
The unit is developing educational programming that could cover topics once addressed by SROs, such as Virginia’s legal system, internet safety, cyberbullying, dating safety and substance abuse. The unit also aims to partner with community groups and organizations to host relationship-building activities, such as sports.
“Given the very recent formation of the unit, specific programs and partnerships are still in development,” Clark said.
The unit and ACPD patrol officers will continue to respond to school-based incidents, which can be reported by calling the Emergency Communications Center at (703) 558-2222 — or 911 in an emergency, ACPD said last month. Non-emergency incidents can be reported through the Online Police Reporting System or by calling (703) 228-4300.
A now-former Arlington elections official is facing charges after police say she improperly removed someone from the voter roll.
Tyra Baker turned herself in on August 26, according to Arlington County police, after arrest warrants were issued in connection to an incident last fall involving Baker’s service in the elections office. She was released on bond but is due to be arraigned in court today (Thursday) on charges of voter intimidation, a misdemeanor, and election official corrupt conduct, a felony, according to court records.
A person with knowledge of the situation, who wished to remain anonymous, tells ARLnow that it started with a dispute over money at Baker’s family-run funeral home in Green Valley.
Baker managed the Chinn Baker Funeral Service on S. Shirlington Road, which was owned by her father until his death in 2018. Family members accused Baker of financial impropriety, leading to a physical confrontation last summer, the person said.
Baker was arrested after that alleged incident and charged with assault.
“At approximately 3:10 p.m. on June 27, 2020, police were dispatched to the 2600 block of Shirlington Road for the report of a domestic dispute,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Kirby Clark. “Tyra Baker, 51, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Domestic Assault and Battery. As the incident was domestic in nature, further details are protected under Virginia Code.”
Baker pleaded not guilty to the assault charge in Arlington General District Court. Her next court appearance in that case is set for May 2022, according to court records.
At the time of her arrest, Baker was still a part-time worker in the Arlington elections office.
Baker “worked as a seasonal Assistant Registrar since 2008,” Arlington Director of Elections Gretchen Reinemeyer said via a county spokeswoman, adding that she has also “served for several decades as an election officer on Election Day.”
The person familiar with the situation said the individual Baker is accused of subsequently removing from the voter roll was the assault victim. Police declined to confirm that, citing the need to “best protect the identity of the victim in each case.” The person removed from the roll only became aware of it after trying to vote in the pivotal fall 2020 general election.
“In October 2020, the victim attempted to vote in Arlington County, but was informed she was previously removed from the voter roll and unable to cast a ballot,” Clark tells ARLnow. “The victim subsequently filed an official complaint with the Arlington County Office of Elections. In December 2020, the Arlington County Police Department was contacted by Special Prosecutor Tony Kostelecky of the Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office regarding the case and began to investigate.”
“Follow-up investigation by detectives determined that the suspect was working as an Assistant Registrar in the Arlington County Office of Elections when she removed the known victim from the voter roll without proper authorization and without completing adequate documentation,” Clark continued. “Warrants were obtained for Tyra Baker, 51, of Arlington, Va., for § 24.2-607 Prohibited conduct; intimidation of voters; disturbance of election; how prevented; penalties and § 24.2-1001 Willful neglect or corrupt conduct. Baker turned herself in at the Office of the Magistrate on August 26, 2021, where she was served the warrants, and subsequently released on an unsecured bond.”
Reinemeyer described the incident as “isolated” but declined to provide specific information about the allegation. Generally, she said, voters who cannot cast a standard ballot at the polls are allowed to cast a provisional ballot pending further investigation.
An early morning, single-vehicle crash along Route 50 led to the driver being struck by an oncoming vehicle.
The crash and a subsequent police investigation closed eastbound Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) at the Glebe Road overpass for several hours. The victim suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive, police say.
“At approximately 4:23 a.m. on September 3, police were dispatched to the area of Arlington Boulevard and South Glebe Road for the report of a crash with injury,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Kirby Clark tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving eastbound on Arlington Boulevard when they struck the overpass wall on the right shoulder. The victim then pulled over in the left lane along the median, exited their vehicle and was in the roadway when they were struck by an oncoming vehicle.”
“The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries,” Clark continued. “The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. Eastbound Arlington Boulevard was closed from Glebe Road to N. Jackson Street while the crash investigation took place.”
The highway reopened shortly before 7 a.m.
FINAL: EB Arlington Boulevard is reopened to traffic.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 3, 2021
Flickr photo by Kevin Wolf
New Rosslyn Food Hall Now Open — “Assembly, the area’s latest food hall, located above the Rosslyn Metro stop in Arlington, hopes to entice you by taking a something-for-everyone approach, including plenty of healthy-ish options. Their lineup includes Great Lake Diner; Charo’s vegetarian tacos; Asian street food stall Beng Beng; GiGi’s salads, smoothies, and grain bowls; Big Day Coffee; sandwich joint Sammy Pickles; modern-minded bodega PNTRY; and Fog Point, a 40-seat sit-down oysters and seafood restaurant with a separate entrance.” [DCist]
Abduction Suspect Arrested in Va. Square — “The victim was inside a business when the suspect approached and attempted to engage her in conversation. The suspect then left the business, but remained seated outside. When the victim left the business, the suspect followed her into a neighboring building and onto an elevator, where he again attempted to engage her in conversation, advanced towards her, grabbed her waist and touched her buttocks. The victim attempted to step away but the suspect prevented her from exiting the elevator.” [ACPD]
Courthouse ‘DMV Select’ Office Reopening — “‘DMV Select’ services operated by the Arlington Commissioner of Revenue’s office in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will reopen Sept. 7 after an 18-month COVID shutdown. The office will operate by appointment Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center, 2100 Clarendon Blvd.” [Sun Gazette]
How Ashton Heights was Sold — “‘Build Your Love Nest in Ashton Heights, Virginia,’ read the ad in the Evening Star a century ago. ‘$500 cash will finance your home; $20 will reserve your lot.’ Exclusive sales agents at the D.C.-based (all female) Kay-Alger Co. were luring federal employees to join the automobile generation’s embrace of suburbanization, to ‘get away from the crowded city and enjoy the freedom of a most picturesque surrounding.'” [Falls Church News-Press]
Hand-painted canvases, ceramics and other works of art will adorn the streets of Clarendon this weekend for an art festival.
The Arlington Festival of the Arts will take place this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 4-5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event, now in its ninth year, will be outdoors on N. Highland Street, beginning at the corner of N. Highland Street and Washington Blvd.
Howard Alan Events, which hosts the festival, had an independent panel of judges select the artists. Some of those who made the cut are based in the D.C. area.
“Visitors will have the chance to see thousands of fine works from across the globe in a prestigious show encompassing fine jewelry, exquisite works of art and hand-crafted apparel and decor,” Howard Alan Events said. “Whether your passions run to sparkling jewels and one of a kind paintings; masterfully crafted glasswork or an art deco sculpture, you are sure to find it during the free, two-day event.”
Art prices will be available to view at the event and all the artists will be available to answer questions during the festival.
The Labor Day weekend event will feature paintings from Allen Levy, whose works have been displayed at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria and whose studio is in Woodbridge. Mixed media artist and interior designer Vered Yanay, based in Bethesda, will have her work at the festival as well as Prince George’s County-based graphic artist Bryane Broadie.
Parking is available at the event’s 3003 Washington Blvd location and pets on leashes are welcomed to peruse the art. They may be interested in Joseph Brewer’s pet portraits.
Parking restrictions and several major road closures are planned in the area, which may lead to traffic delays for drivers.
More from the Arlington County Police Department:
Setup for the event will begin at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, and the event will be open both days from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 4th through 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 5th to accommodate the event:
- Westbound Washington Boulevard will be closed from N. 10th Street to Clarendon Boulevard
- N. Highland Street will be closed from N. 11th Street to Washington Boulevard
- Eastbound Washington Boulevard will be reduced to one lane from Clarendon Boulevard to N. 10th Street
- Southbound traffic on N. Garfield Street will only be allowed to turn left (eastbound) on Washington Boulevard
Other closures not mentioned above may be implemented at law enforcement discretion in the interest of public safety.
Street parking in the area will be restricted and motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.
Attendees are encouraged to use Metro (Clarendon station) or other “for hire” transportation options to reduce vehicular traffic in the area.
TRAFFIC ALERT ⚠️ Road closures and turn restrictions will be in place in the Clarendon area this weekend for the Arlington Festival of the Arts on Saturday and Sunday. Plan ahead and seek alternate routes.
Details: https://t.co/zItt6JVnSM pic.twitter.com/tcAtm9XCap
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 1, 2021
Local Pet Rescue Orgs Take in Hurricane Evacuees — “One of the first transports of dogs arrived Sunday with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, which was able to find fosters to take in evacuated dogs from Mississippi shelters… Homeward Trails Animal Rescue is another rescue urgently working to take in dogs and cats in Hurricane Ida’s path… ‘Fostering or adopting an animal NOW will save more than that one life. It will save dozens. Please donate, foster and adopt NOW.'” [WUSA 9, WTOP, WJLA]
Arlington Girl Hooks Record-Setting Fish — “If you happen to meet 5-year-old Caroline May Evans, she may want to tell you about the fish she caught. It’s a story worth hearing: She and her mom and dad hiked 12 miles into the remote Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, where she swung a red worm over the outlet of a lake with no name and caught what turns out to be a world-record golden trout. Caroline’s fish, landed on July 8, a few days before her 5th birthday, weighed 2 pounds, a remarkable size for a golden.” [Field and Stream]
Young Dems Blast Arlington Bishop — From the Arlington Young Democrats: “In a letter penned to his church community, Bishop Michael F. Burbridge of Arlington made heinous statements about trans folks and even trans children, where he stated that “no one is transgender.” Not only is this statement harmful to the hundreds of thousands of trans people that live in this country, many of whom live here in Arlington, but it is categorically false.” [Twitter]
APS to Punish Less, Teach More — “The Arlington County, Virginia, public schools are reimagining discipline, in the hope that teaching valuable life lessons will benefit students more than punitive consequences. On the first day of the 2021-2022 school year, Superintendent Francisco Duran, standing outside the newly opened Cardinal Elementary School, in North Arlington, said the school system is shifting the focus of discipline from punishment to making amends.” [WTOP]
Glebe Road Over Pimmit Run Back Open — “After more than two weeks, N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road/Virginia Route 123 in Arlington reopened Monday morning after delays caused by storm damage. The stretch was was originally set to be closed for nine days beginning Aug. 13 and ending Aug. 23, but an additional week was added on because of the impact of severe weather.” [WJLA]
Police Make Credit Card Theft Arrest — “The officer located the owner of the wallet, contacted him, and learned the wallet was previously stolen and there were fraudulent charges on the victim’s credit cards. The officer initiated a follow-up investigation and developed a suspect description. At approximately 8:22 a.m. on August 29, the officer was on patrol in the area of Wilson Boulevard and N. Randolph Street, observed the suspect on foot, and took him into custody without incident.” [ACPD]