Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Pandemic Doesn’t Change Amazon’s Plans — “Schoettler, who oversees Amazon’s global portfolio of office space, said the past year hasn’t changed the way the company thinks about its office strategy… Amazon still views the office as the best place for work because of the ability for employees to collaborate, and it still envisions its footprint centered around large corporate campuses like its Seattle headquarters and its HQ2 development in Northern Virginia. ” [Bisnow, Twitter]

Sheriff’s Deputy Charged with Fraud — “India Middleton, a deputy sheriff with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, was indicted in Georgia by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Middleton was one of 10 defendants indicted in a multi-state scheme to submit fraudulent loan applications for non-[existent] businesses as part of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.” [Patch, Arlington County]

New Irish Pub Opening Soon — From the social media account of Mattie & Eddie’s, Chef Cathal Armstrong’s new Irish restaurant and bar in Pentagon City: “Practice test! All your grand Irish pints coming soon!” [Facebook]

APS May Cut Magnet High School from Budget — “As part of his proposed budget for the 2022 Arlington Public Schools (APS) fiscal year, Superintendent Francisco Dúran has suggested cutting funding for Arlington students to attend [Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology]. Should the proposed cut pass, current Arlington students at Jefferson will be allowed to remain, but all future classes — including this year’s rising 9th graders — will be barred from attending the school.” [TJ Today]

Lopez’s Gun Loophole Bill Signed — “Introduced by House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), HB 2128 was one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam before the end of the session. The bill expands the amount of time state police and agencies have to conduct a background check on a ‘default proceed’ gun sale, from 3 days to 5 days.” [Press Release]

View of Old Coal Trestle from New Bridge — “A new view of the 1926 W&OD Railroad coal trestle remnants next to the new Lee Hwy bridge.” [Twitter]

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Virginia-based immigrant rights organization La ColectiVA is calling on Arlington County officials to put a stop to information-sharing between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

La ColectiVA said the effort comes after learning of multiple cases in which migrant community members have been arrested in Arlington and then transferred to ICE for deportation proceedings. Through public records requests, La ColectiVA found that the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office handed those in local law enforcement custody over to ICE more than 100 times in 22 months.

“This collaboration between violent state agencies violates the dignity of our loved ones and endangers our neighbors and families who are at risk,” the organization said in a statement.

From January 2019 to October 2020, the sheriff’s office — which runs the county jail — turned 104 inmates over to ICE, upon the federal agency’s request, while releasing 21 people despite an ICE detainer. In a fact sheet providing an overview of the data, the organization highlighted local policies governing work with ICE.

The Arlington County Police Department and the sheriff’s office confirmed La ColectiVA’s findings and data with ARLnow.

The sheriff’s office does not honor ICE requests — to detain a person for up to 48 hours — unless the detainer is signed by a judge, ACSO spokeswoman Maj. Tara Johnson said. Sheriff’s office employees are instructed to notify ICE when someone with a signed detainer request is being released from jail.

“If the individual has a release date, we can typically give [ICE] 48 hours notice of the person’s release,” Johnson said in an email. “In a bond situation, we would notify ICE that the person has posted bond and they have two hours to pick them up or they will be released.”

La ColectiVA said in one instance, one person was transferred from the Arlington jail to ICE after their family had already paid bail for their release.

Without knowing the specific case, Johnson said “it’s hard to answer but this [scenario] is possible,” She said the office is reviewing its policies, including its ICE policy, as part of an annual review.

The police department also transfers people to ICE custody, including an instance when an officer called the agency after “a fender bender,” La ColectiVA said.

“These are only two examples of policies and practices that create a chilling effect on many community members, inflicting fear and deterring individuals from participating in many community and government functions,” the organization said.

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage connected the incident LaColectiVA cited to one that occurred in August 2019. Police responded to a vehicle crash at Columbia Pike and S. Buchanan Street, where they found one of the drivers did not have a license. When he provided identifying documents, officers conducted a routine check because they suspected the documents looked fake, Savage said in an email.

The background check identified the person as a deported felon, so police contacted ICE and he was taken into custody, she said.

Police officers can only notify ICE of a possibly undocumented person under five circumstances, including if the department’s gang unit confirms the person is suspected of participating in criminal street gang activity, Savage said.

“We know that officers will abuse their discretion and put community members at risk,” La ColectiVA asserted.

In response, Savage said law enforcement “has not and will not monitor, detain, interview, or investigate a person solely for the purpose of determining their immigration status.” She said that the police department works with the community to ensure people know that they can utilize police services, including reporting crimes, without worrying about officers checking their immigration status.

In a statement, County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said that over the last year the Board has discussed individual cases causing “real concern” with La ColectiVA and other organizations and community leaders.

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The County Board is slated to accept nearly $118,000 in state funding that would reimburse the County for bonuses to sworn officers in Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.

On Christmas Eve, 222 Sheriff’s Office personnel each received a $500 bonus, after an amendment to the Commonwealth’s 2021 budget passed during a special session last year, according to a county staff report. The bonuses are not intended as a replacement for hazard pay during the pandemic, the report notes.

The full amendment awards $18.4 million in one-time bonus payments to Virginia’s sheriffs, deputies, superintendents and regional jail officers.

The bonuses from the state Compensation Board came in lieu of salary increases, Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur said.

Arthur said she works with the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, which advocates sworn officers in the Commonwealth. In Arlington, she said the County heavily subsidizes salaries, but that is not true throughout the state.

“It’s a constant issue at the top of our agenda,” said Arthur, a former association president. She said that while she was happy to give her officers financial assistance, these bonuses do not go as far as salary increases would for those in other jurisdictions receiving little to no local subsidies.

The sum also includes insurance contribution expenses for January, the county report noted.

The Board is scheduled to review the County Manager’s recommendation to accept the funding during its regular meeting on Saturday.

In Arlington, Sheriff’s deputies staff the county jail, provide security to courtrooms, assist with traffic enforcement, and serve court notices, among other law enforcement duties.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Modification to Red Top Development — “As currently proposed, the building would have 269 residential units instead of the previously-approved 247. The unit mix will span from studios to two bedrooms, and the ground-floor units will have private entrances, including a lone three-bedroom unit. The development will also include 134 vehicular spaces and 108 bicycle spaces on a below-grade level.” [UrbanTurf]

Spotted: First Snowflakes of the Season — The first snowflakes of the season in Arlington fell yesterday. Though the few flakes that briefly fell did not amount to any degree of accumulation, it was enough to prompt a few social media posts. [Twitter, Twitter]

Rental Assistance for Day Laborers — “Arlington County Board members on Dec. 12 are expected to reallocate funds from the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) to support rental assistance for day-laborers in the community. The plan will move $32,000 of the county government’s annual grant of $208,643 to SEEC to directly focus on rental assistance by making direct payments to landlords.” [InsideNova]

Inmates, Deputies to Be Tested — “Sheriff Beth Arthur announces all Sheriff’s Office staff and inmates housed at the Arlington County Detention Facility will be tested for COVID-19 on December 10th and 11th by the Virginia National Guard.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: MoCo May Nix Indoor Dining — “Indoor dining at restaurants in Montgomery County could soon be shut down, a new measure to combat the spread of COVID-19. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced his proposal on Wednesday afternoon during a media briefing held with county and medical officials across the state.” [Bethesda Magazine, Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

COVID Case at County Jail — “An inmate in the Arlington County Detention Center has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is doing well and the medical contractor of the Detention Center will be closely managing his symptoms. This is the first inmate to have contracted the COVID-19 virus and the Sheriff’s Office is taking all necessary steps to ensure the well being of those incarcerated.” [Arlington County]

Historic Designation for Rouse Estate? — “Members of the Arlington government’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) voted 10-0 on Nov. 17 to move forward on a preliminary study toward determining whether the 9-acre Rouse estate at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North McKinley Road meets qualifications to be designated as a local historic district.” [InsideNova]

Rainy Night On Tap — “The calendar flipped to meteorological winter Tuesday, and the atmosphere is going all in. A strong storm system could drench the coastal Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with a soaking shot of rainfall late Friday night into Saturday, while inland areas risk being blanketed by the first big snow of the season.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Toy Donation Event Sunday — “With Federal unemployment ending and the Marine’s Toys for Tots program seeing record low donations, The Arlington Knights of Columbus chapter will be holding a drive-thru Toys for Tots drop-off event. The event will take place at the Arlington Knights of Columbus on Sunday, December 6 from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. at 5115 Little Falls Road.” [Event Calendar]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Morning Notes

Nonprofit Won’t Return to Arlington Office — “The American Diabetes Association isn’t planning a return to the Crystal City headquarters it left Alexandria for a few years back, not even when a Covid-19 vaccine is readily available and it’s safe to go back to the office again. The nonprofit is seeking to sublease all of its space at 2451 Crystal Drive, about 80,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]

Voter Registration Open Until Midnight — “A judge on Wednesday granted a request from civil rights groups to extend Virginia’s voter registration deadline until Oct. 15 after the state’s online system crashed on the final day of the registration period, according to Virginia’s attorney general.” [Axios, Press Release]

Oh, Deer — The regional deer population has been increasing during the pandemic, which is making driving more dangerous this fall as deer potentially become “too comfortable” around roads. [NBC 4]

Park Rangers Patrolling for Rogue Mountain Bikers — “Park rangers have been patrolling the parks to keep the mountain bike riders off the natural trails. ‘We put up barriers in places where we can. We put up signs … in key areas we put up some things to block their access … but we’re focusing on education,’ Abugattas said.” [WTOP]

Voting Lines Should Move Quickly — “Arlington election officials are advising the public not to be dissuaded if lines for voting, either in advance of Nov. 3 or on Election Day itself, seem long. ‘You can expect to see a pretty long line, but that’s because of the spacing we’re trying to put between voters,’ county director of elections Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” Also, the Reinemeyer said the county is already fully staffed with volunteer poll workers. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Certification for Sheriff’s Office — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office has met all applicable Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards following an audit that was conducted earlier this year.” [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Planning Meeting Tonight — “Participate in a virtual workshop about Arlington’s community planning process for Pentagon City! The first workshop will include small group discussions about the community’s vision for the Pentagon City Area.” [Arlington County]

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The Arlington branch of the NAACP is calling for an independent investigation into an inmate’s death inside the county jail last week.

The incident happened on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 1 at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. Darryl Becton, 46, was found unconscious in his cell and later declared dead on scene by paramedics after resuscitation efforts failed.

Becton, a D.C. resident, was being held on an alleged probation violation following his conviction on a felony “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle” charge last year.

The death is being investigated by the Arlington County Police Department. A separate law enforcement entity — the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office — manages the jail, but the NAACP says a different agency, like Virginia State Police, should conduct the investigation.

“It has been reported that in Arlington there has now been at least three deaths in the past few years at this Detention Facility,” said NAACP branch president Julius Spain, Sr. “It is time to find out the reasons why. Transparency, accountability, and review are extremely critical. The public deserves to know.”

The NAACP sent the following letter to the county’s sheriff, acting police chief and other top officials, as well as members of the media.

Arlington Branch #7047 calls for a full AND independent investigation (to include policy, procedural, and criminal violations) into the death of Mr. Darryl Becton, 46, who died on October 1, 2020, after he was found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility. Releasing the results of the investigation to the public immediately is paramount to promoting transparency and public trust in our community. The results of the autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determining the cause and manner of death should also be released to the public immediately.

Mr. Julius D. Spain, Sr., President of the branch stated, “Any death in the custody of law enforcement officials should require an independent investigation with full public disclosure. It has been reported that in Arlington there has now been at least three deaths in the past few years at this Detention Facility. It is time to find out the reasons why. Transparency, accountability, and review are extremely critical. The public deserves to know.”

Mr. Kent D. Carter, Vice President of the branch who serves as chair of the branch criminal justice committee added, “the Arlington Branch NAACP intends to push county leadership to include a review of ACPD/Sheriff Office collaboration and custody and detention policies as part of the work on the recently established police practices group.” Mr. Carter continued, “this death raises yet another area that we on the committee should be expected to analyze in order for our work to be meaningful.”

The deaths of inmates over the last few years in the local Detention Facility are overly concerning. The public needs to know what policies and procedures have been implemented to prevent inmate deaths.

Furthermore, while we understand Arlington County Police Department will investigate, we feel strongly that incidents of this nature should be investigated by an independent outside agency such as the Virginia State Police.

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An inmate died at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse yesterday.

Paramedics were dispatched to the jail for a report of “CPR in progress” after the inmate was found unconscious in his cell at 4:17 p.m. on Thursday. Despite the resuscitation efforts, he was pronounced dead on scene by medics shortly after 4:45 p.m.

The inmate was identified as 46-year-old Darryl Becton. Court records show Becton, a D.C. resident, was in jail for an alleged probation violation after being arrested  on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Last September he pleaded guilty to felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, after initially being charged with grand theft auto.

The Sheriff’s Office says Becton’s family was notified of his death yesterday evening.

As is standard procedure, detectives from the police department are now conducting a death investigation, while the medical examiner conducts an autopsy to determine cause of death.

“Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact the Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Morning Notes

Western Smoke Causing Hazy Skies — “The local National Weather Service office pointed out today in its technical discussion that the smoke is caught in the jet stream and moving overhead around 20,000 to 25,000 feet high. Smoke from the historic fires out West now covers much of the country, and it is expected to continue to be an issue in the days ahead.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Board Approves Road Project — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 12 approved a contract worth up to $805,000 for improvements to the intersection of 18th Street North with North Glebe Road and North Wakefield Street, aimed at providing a better walking and biking experience for children and others headed to Glebe Elementary School.” [InsideNova. Arlington County]

Ret. Deputy Seeking Answer to 9/11 Mystery — “Nineteen years after the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon, a retired Arlington Sheriff’s deputy still doesn’t know if the badly injured man he pulled from the burning building survived. He doesn’t know his family or even his name — and Art Castellano still cries about it whenever something reminds him of that day. Now, WUSA9 is trying to help reunite the two men.” [WUSA 9]

Teacher Seeking Desk Donations — “Students across Northern Virginia are turning homes into classrooms, so Arlington art teacher Jeff Wilson decided to rally the community to help. Wilson posted a request online for people to donate their old desks to help students who are learning from home.” [WJLA]

Local Business Legend Dies — “Russell A. Hitt, who helped transform the family business into one of the nation’s largest and most successful general contracting firms, died Sunday at his Falls Church residence. The 85-year-old Arlington native is survived by his wife of 66 years, Joan; four children and 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, many of whom now work at Hitt Contracting Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]

No, the FBI Didn’t Conduct a Raid in Rosslyn — “The FBI’s Washington field office says it did not raid the home of Arlington conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman, despite a Washington Post story that apparently took Burkman’s word that his home had been tossed by federal agents.” [Washingtonian, Daily Beast, Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Low Water Pressure in RosslynUpdated at 9 a.m. — “LOW WATER PRESSURE: Customers in the Rosslyn area may be experiencing low water pressure due to a water main break on Key Blvd b/w N Edgewood St and N Danville St. Crews have been dispatched. Expected completion time: TBD. An update will be provided once we have more information.” [Twitter]

Changes to Crystal City Development — “JBG Smith Properties is shrinking plans for a pair of residential towers at 2000 and 2001 South Bell Street in Crystal City in a bid to get them approved after Arlington County planners raised concerns about its height. The developer filed revised plans for the Amazon-adjacent development earlier in July, lopping off several stories of each proposed tower to appease Arlington officials.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Sheriff’s Office Employee — “On July 20, 2020, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office welcomed Diana Fetterer to the Pretrial Section, where she will begin her new role as a member of the newly established Behavioral Health Docket Team… The Behavioral Health Docket is scheduled to start in September 2020.” [Arlington County]

Flash Flood Watch Today — “Showers with scattered thunderstorms are expected overnight through Friday. Locally heavy rainfall may produce flooding. A Flash Flood Watch is now in effect for much of the region.” [Twitter]

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Arlington County is getting $136,727 from the U.S. Dept. of Justice to help pay for coronavirus-related public safety expenses.

The federal grant was approved unanimously by the County Board over the weekend.

Among the big ticket items to be funded by the grant are:

  • 3 electronic sign boards for the Arlington County Police Department ($30,210)
  • 435 hours of officer overtime for ACPD ($19,106)
  • 994 pairs of coveralls for Arlington County firefighters ($31,063)
  • 280 boxes of nitrile exam gloves for the Arlington Sheriff’s Office ($36,736)

“Funds awarded under the [Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding] Program must be utilized to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus,” says a county staff report. “Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to, overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment), and supplies (such as gloves, masks, sanitizer).”

The expenses have already been incurred, the staff report notes, and will be reimbursed — with no local matching funds required.

Also funded by the grant are $19,605 worth of miscellaneous supplies for the police department.

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