High Water Bills Prompt Questions — A number of Arlington residents say their quarterly water bills for the summer and fall spiked to inconceivably high levels, in some cases in excess of $2,000. The county government, however, says no systemic billing issues have been found and blames the high bills on hot and dry weather combined with homeowners irrigating their yards. [InsideNova]
News Photog Saved By Arlington Medic — WUSA9 photographer Dion Wiggins suffered a massive heart attack while shooting video of traffic along I-395 last month. It was an Arlington County paramedic, Chris Abrahams, who together with firefighter Jason Griffith revived Wiggins from cardiac arrest, stabilized him and transported him to George Washington University Hospital. Wiggins is now back at home and on the road to recovery. [WUSA9]
ACPD: Don’t DUI After the Super Bowl — Super Bowl Sunday is two days away and the Arlington County Police Department is reminding residents to designate a driver for the big game. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest days of the year for DUI, with a third of all U.S. traffic deaths due to drunk drivers. [Arlington County]
D.C. Metro Work This Weekend — Major scheduled track work will close six downtown D.C. Metro stations along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines this weekend. The Blue and Orange lines will be split in two and the Silver line will end at Ballston. “Customers traveling between Virginia and DC are encouraged to use the Yellow Line, if possible,” Metro says. [WMATA]
Kudos for Sheriff’s Office — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded reaccreditation by the American Correctional Association Commission (ACA), whose standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional facilities in the United States.” [Arlington County]
WHS Swimmers in Regionals — “With three Wakefield swimmers heading off to regionals — the most in recent history — the Wakefield community is overflowing with enthusiasm and excitement in anticipation of a splashing victory.” [Wakefield Chieftain]
Obit: Mel Labat — Long-time Arlington tennis coach Mel Labat passed away last week. A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday). A scholarship fund has been established, with the proceeds going to the Arlington Youth Tennis Program. [YMCA, Legacy]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
Election Security in Arlington — Arlington County Police are on alert for election-related incidents, with additional officers on duty today, though there’s no recent history of election violence or fraud. “We haven’t had any issues of Election Day fraud in Arlington,” says the county’s top election official. [NBC 4]
DMV Opening Date Delayed — The opening of the new Dept. of Motor Vehicles office in Virginia Square has been delayed until Wednesday. [ARLnow]
Sheriff to Receive Bar Association Award — On Nov. 15, Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur will receive the Arlington County Bar Foundation’s William L. Winston Award. The award “is presented to a prominent member of the Northern Virginia legal community for a record of public service distinguished by efforts to advance the principles of enlightenment, knowledge and education in the American system of jurisprudence, as well as to promote democratic ideals and advance the rule of law.” [Arlington County]
Real Estate Firms Collecting Food, Clothes — Ahead of what may be a cold and snowy winter, 13 Arlington real estate firms have joined forces to collect clothing and food donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Arlington County paid its annual tribute to fallen law enforcement officers this morning.
The county’s observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day took place at 8 a.m., in the Arlington County Justice Center Plaza at 1425 N. Courthouse Road. The six Arlington County Police Department officers who have died in the line of duty were remembered during the ceremony, as was a seventh officer who died after suffering a heart attack and falling to his death in the 1920s.
Among those participating in the ceremony was the son of Officer George Pomraning, who was shot to death at the age of 26 while bringing a prisoner to jail on Sept. 2, 1973. Pomraning’s son, who was born around the time of his father’s death, wiped tears from his face after placing a rose in his honor next to the police memorial statue.
Other event participants included Police Chief Jay Farr, Sheriff Beth Arthur, County Board Chair Libby Garvey and County Manager Mark Schwartz. There were also representatives from the Alexandria Police Department, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies.
The memorial ceremony coincides with National Police Week, which brings law enforcement officers from around the country and around the world together in the D.C. area. Police motorcades running down local highways, as well as to and from the airport, are a common sight in Arlington before and during the week-long event, which officially starts on May 15.
Among the pre-Police Week activities, several Arlington County officers took part in a cross-state Law Enforcement United bike ride that arrived at the Iwo Jima memorial near Rosslyn yesterday afternoon.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) May 12, 2016
I-66 Public Hearing at W-L — VDOT is holding a public hearing on the changes planned for I-66 tonight. The hearing is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School’s cafeteria. Meanwhile, one letter-writer is decrying the “whining” from Arlington residents who complain about the proposed partial widening of I-66 while using it to make a reverse commute to Fairfax County — and the protestations from Arlington policymakers who are more than happy to have large employers come to Ballston and other dense neighborhoods along I-66, thus increasing traffic on the highway. [VDOT, Washington Post]
Wakefield, Yorktown Victorious in Key Games — The Wakefield boys basketball squad defeated Deep Run 50-48 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the 5A state basketball tournament. This will be the Warriors’ third semifinal appearance in four seasons. Yorktown’s hockey team, meanwhile, defeated Washington-Lee 5-3 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Friday night. [InsideNova, Twitter]
Abingdon Elementary Design Approved — On Thursday the Arlington School Board approved a final design for an addition and renovation to Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. The project will add 12 classrooms and 136 seats to the school, while renovating the gym, kitchen and media space. [Arlington Public Schools]
Retired Fire Officials Speak Out Against Station Move — Two retired Arlington County Fire Department officials say a proposed relocation of Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway to a county-owned location farther north does not make practical sense and would mostly benefit residents of Fairfax County. Residents around the current fire station and around its proposed new location have been protesting the planned move. [InsideNova]
Arlington Complying With Immigration Detainers — Arlington County law enforcement is complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for jail inmates, but only if ICE reimburses the county for certain expenses and picks up the inmate within 48 hours. Fearing that some jurisdictions are not complying with federal detainers, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have proposed bills to make such requests mandatory. [Washington Post]
County Board to Meet With Commission Chairs — The Arlington County Board tonight is holding a meeting with the chairmen of the county’s advisory commissions. ARLnow.com hears that the Board has received complaints about certain commissions overstepping their bounds or operating inefficiently. The meeting will address diversity in commission membership, training for commission members and potential improvements to commission communication and community outreach. [Arlington County]
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.”
A sobriety checkpoint will be set up in an undisclosed part of Arlington Thursday night, according to an Arlington County Police Department press release.
“Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers,” the police department said. “Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication.”
The checkpoint is being conducted by ACPD, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police, as part of a “national crackdown program on drunk driving that focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.”
“The maximum penalty in Virginia for the first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges,” the press release notes.
Justice Dept. Investigating Arlington Jail — The Justice Department has launched an investigation into treatment of deaf inmates at the Arlington County Detention Center. That follows a lawsuit by a deaf inmate who said he was not given access to a sign language interpreter during a six-week stay at the jail. [Associated Press]
Deer Takes the Stage at Signature Theatre — A deer wandered onto the stage at Signature Theatre in Shirlington on Tuesday. The deer apparently entered through a loading dock while crews were working on the set for an upcoming production. [NBC Washington]
‘Most Wanted’ Deadbeats — The Arlington Sheriff’s Office is making a push to promote a program for tracking down “deadbeat parents” who are late on child support payments. Many of the addresses on file for deadbeat parents are no longer valid, so deputies have taken to finding the offenders on social media. [Connection Newspapers]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
Police Answer Resident Questions About Murder — Arlington County Police held a community meeting in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood last night to answer questions about the murder of Bonnie Black. Police said that Black was stabbed in the chest and neck. Officers have been conducting extra patrols but police say no immediate danger to the community. Meanwhile, it was revealed that police are searching the home of Black’s estranged husband, who so far is not being named as a suspect. [MyFoxDC, WTOP]
Judge Considering Deaf Inmate’s Suit — A federal court judge is considering testimony in the lawsuit against the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office by a deaf inmate who says he was denied access to an American Sign Language interpreter during a jail stay last year. [Associated Press]
TDM For APS Teachers — Arlington County has launched the first transportation demand management (TDM) program in the U.S. for public school faculty and staff. The program is “aimed at reducing the drive-alone rate of the more than 5,000 employees of Arlington Public Schools (APS), one of the top employers in the county.” [Mobility Lab]
No ‘Bells and Whistles’ for Lubber Run — Arlington County is in the early stages of a plan to renovate the Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive), but the officials are already tamping down any expectations of gold-plated features. “We’re not going to build everyone’s wish list,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes on Tuesday. A community forum about the renovation project is scheduled for next Wednesday at 6:30 at the community center. [InsideNova]
Arlington Native Named People’s ‘Most Beautiful’ — Actress Sandra Bullock, a 1982 graduate of Washington-Lee High School, has been named People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Woman of 2015. [Patch]
Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk
Members of the Arlington County Police Department, the Arlington County Fire Department, the county’s emergency operations staff and the Arlington Sheriff’s Office were honored today for their efforts and sacrifices while serving the county.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held its 33rd annual Valor Awards at the Officer’s Club at Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall, giving awards for careers of service as well as individual, lifesaving efforts over the past 12 months.
The winners of the afternoon’s most prestigious award, the Valor Award, were ACFD Capt. Craig Brightbill and firefighter/EMTs John Hirte and Chad Aldridge, who were the first responders to the deadly house fire on S. Langley Street last March. Aldridge suffered respiratory and skin burns when he went in first to the house, which was rapidly engulfed in flames.
The three men were staffing Rescue 109, which is one of two apparatus in Arlington currently understaffed.
“Despite the fact that this fire resulted in two civilian casualties and an injured firefighter, the crew of Rescue 109 displayed dedication, courage and perseverance while facing extreme fire conditions, life safety hazards to trapped occupants and themselves, and the overwhelming stress conditions they were presented with,” their commendation, read by WJLA weather director and event master of ceremonies Doug Hill, said.
Among the other winners were Sheriff’s Office Cpls. Phyllis Henderson and Edwin Hill, who, along with Judge Thomas Kelley, saved a man in the Arlington County Courthouse from a heart attack in January; and ACPD K9 Cpl. Aaron Tingle, who helped prevent a rape and capture the suspect in Buckingham last November.
Retired ACPD Chief Doug Scott was also honored after 12 years at the helm of the county’s law enforcement.
“[Scott] will be missed and fondly remembered,” Chamber President/CEO Kate Roche said. “But we all know his legacy will live on in the great work of the Arlington County Police Department.”
Tow Driver Hooks Car With Kids Inside — A local dad is upset with Advanced Towing because one of its tow truck drivers hooked his car in the Columbia Pike CVS parking lot while two of his kids were still inside. The tow driver unhooked the car when he realized the children were there. The tow company owner said the car had tinted windows and the dad had parked at CVS but went to other businesses before returning to shop at CVS. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]
Hikers Rescued on GW Parkway — The Arlington County Fire Department, with an assist from the U.S Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter, rescued two hikers stranded on the rocks along the George Washington Parkway last night. [WUSA 9]
Officers Honored at CIT Awards — Several Arlington County public safety officers were honored last night for their extraordinary work to intervene in mental health crises. The officers are specifically trained to deal with mental health issues as part of Arlington’s Crisis Intervention Team program. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will ignore requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold people in the county jail unless such a request comes with a warrant, the county announced Friday afternoon.
The new policy, which takes effect immediately, comes four days after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) issued an opinion that ICE detainers are “merely a request.”
From an Arlington County press release:
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will no longer hold people in custody at the County Detention Facility based solely on a request to detain by the federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless ICE presents the Sheriff with a judicially issued warrant authorizing such detention, Sheriff Beth Arthur said today.
This change in policy is a result of a question from Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle to Attorney General Herring. In response to that question, on January 5, 2015, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an Advisory Opinion regarding the authority for law enforcement to hold a person in custody based on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detainer. Attorney General Herring stated:
“It is my opinion that an ICE detainer is merely a request. It does not create for a law enforcement agency either an obligation or legal authority to maintain custody of a prisoner who is otherwise eligible for immediate release from local or state custody.”
Arlington County Sheriff’s Office’s new policy is effective immediately.
Thirteen new police officers will soon be patrolling the streets of Arlington County after police academy graduation yesterday.
Of the 14 candidates who started in police academy, 13 will now begin training to become full-time ACPD officers, along with five sheriff’s deputies who also graduated from the academy. The officers were sworn in by Arlington Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson on Friday, according to ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
Two of the new officers won the physical fitness awards at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy, which also graduated officers from Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax County and city, Manassas, Prince Williams and Loudoun counties and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, among other departments.
An Arlington officer also was given the Thomas L. Shaw Award for displaying “characteristics of professionalism, dedication and leadership,” according to the ACPD’s Facebook page.
The newly sworn-in officers “will complete several weeks of in-house training before beginning their ‘field training,’ which is an 12 additional weeks of training on all three patrol shifts with a training officer,” Malcolm said.
Photos courtesy ACPD
The Arlington County Police Department wants to build its relationship with the community in light of the national unrest surrounding the events in Ferguson, Mo., this summer.
To help strengthen the community’s trust in the ACPD, the department is hosting a forum this Wednesday at the Wakefield High School auditorium (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
“With recent national media coverage of law enforcement and community relationships, the Arlington County Police Department feels it is imperative to continue to build relationships through open dialogue,” ACPD said in a press release. “The Arlington County Chief of Police, along with Commonwealth Attorney, County Sheriff and other distinguished panel members, will conduct a community forum focusing on the community’s trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.”
Police Chief Doug Scott, Sheriff Beth Arthur, Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos, NAACP Arlington President Elmer Lowe, community activist Andres Tobar, who is the director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, and ARLnow.com founder and editor Scott Brodbeck.
WJLA’s Jeff Goldberg will moderate the panel, which will hold a discussion with topics including use of force, community policing and the use of police body cameras, according to the police department. After the discussion, the panelists will answer audience questions.
The event is free and open to the public. ACPD will be live-tweeting the event at its Twitter account for those who can’t attend.
An Arlington County Sheriff’s Office vehicle struck a bicyclist this morning on the ramp from Washington Blvd to westbound Route 50.
The cyclist, named Victoria, said she was waiting to cross the ramp at the crosswalk — at which there’s a stop sign for traffic turning right onto Washington Blvd — when she and the deputy’s vehicle went at the same time. The front wheel of her bike was bent in the minor collision, but she was not transported and there was no discernible damage to the squad car.
Victoria, who works as a lifeguard at several pools in the area, said she has cycled along Washington Blvd every day for the last two-and-a-half months. Tuesday morning, she and a friend were cycling together before the accident.
“It’s always dangerous in this spot,” she told ARLnow.com. “It’s scary every time I do it.”
The intersection is routinely one of the most accident-prone in the county; in 2010, it had 113 calls for accidents in the county, almost double the second-most dangerous intersection.
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) Arlington Sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson was convicted in Alexandria court today of voluntary manslaughter in the May shooting death of 22-year-old Julian Dawkins.
Patterson was found not guilty of possession of a use of a firearm in commission of a murder. The jury spent more than a day deliberating over the verdict, which was handed down just after 1:00 p.m. Friday. The jury later recommended that Patterson be sentenced to 6 years in prison, according to a tweet from NBC4’s David Culver. A judge will decide on the sentencing in February.
Patterson, 45, was off-duty in May when he shot and killed Dawkins, an Alexandria resident and driver for PBS NewsHour in Shirlington. Patterson claimed the shooting was in self defense, while prosecutors argued he was shooting in rage after an argument.
From the Washington Post:
Patterson was forced to shoot, defense attorney Megan Thomas said in closing arguments, when charged by “an angry, drunk, belligerent man, armed with a deadly weapon.” The knife was found folded in Dawkins’ pocket; Thomas speculated that what Patterson saw was a cellphone.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said in closing arguments that if Patterson meant to uphold the law, “the proper thing to do was to call the police . . .but he chose not to.”
Dawkins’ family and friends were in attendance to hear the verdict, and the scene in Alexandria Circuit Court became emotional after it was announced, according to WJLA’s Keff Goldberg.
Mother of Julian Dawkins, Gwen Pratt Miller, on stand at beginning of sentencing phase, sobbing, “he was my only son. He was all I had”.
— Jeff Goldberg (@jgoldbergABC7) December 13, 2013
Gwen Pratt Miller could not go on as her sobbing intensified. Several members of jury crying as well. Judge stopped process for recess.
— Jeff Goldberg (@jgoldbergABC7) December 13, 2013
Patterson has been on unpaid administrative leave since he was charged. Prosecutors were hoping for a first degree murder conviction, but jurors elected to convict Patterson of the lesser charge.
Arlington County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Maj. Susie Doyel released a statement Friday afternoon on the conviction.
“At this time, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will resume our internal investigation that was suspended upon the arrest of Deputy Patterson,” she wrote in an email. “Deputy Craig Patterson continues to be on leave without pay awaiting the outcome of the internal investigation.”
Photo via Alexandria Police Department