Reston, VA

Last night’s town hall with Fairfax County’s police chief covered a variety of issues related to police reform, from progress on the demands made by Fairfax County NAACP to body-worn cameras.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn hosted the meeting last night to give locals a chance to provide input and ask questions. The conflict-free town hall mainly focused on Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. answering questions from audience members and explaining FCPD’s policies in detail.

Roessler highlighted the reforms made by FCPD since the shooting of John Geer, an unarmed Springfield man, in 2013. They have shifted towards a “co-production” method of policing, which emphasizes the importance of community engagement by bringing in advocates to review issues and discuss police report narratives.

A big goal of the police department is to increase diversion of tasks, including sending mental health or substance abuse cases away from the police. Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is the chair of the county’s Public Safety Committee, also emphasized that the current range of issues diverted to the police is “too much to ask of them” and is in support of the Diversion First model.

The chief addressed terminology that the public wanted to be defined, including the FCPD’s definition of the use of force as “anything beyond a guide or escort, or above putting handcuffs on.” Roessler said that anything beyond that is subject to investigation. Additionally, he clarified that chokeholds are prohibited in Fairfax County.

Roessler also touched on the development of body-worn cameras. He said that the idea has been in the works since June 2015, and he wants to adopt the co-production model of community engagement in this development.

He says they are making “great progress” on this project and that the policies regarding the cameras are addressed online in an American University pilot program testing the same model of body camera policies. They plan to evaluate the body cameras again in-person in September to ensure the policies are exceeding community expectations.

Roessler discussed the evaluation and promotion process of officers, saying that evaluation begins upon application. He described a thorough path of training that officers go through before assignments. Additionally, they value community engagement when evaluating candidates for senior staff positions to ensure officers “embody the spirit of what the community needs for the future.”

“We want our officers to engage with the community members in a positive fashion, not just calls for service,” Roessler said in describing what they look for upon officer evaluation.

Other issues covered included the presence of the MS-13 gang, to which Roessler said they “will be relentless on gang activity in Fairfax County.”

When asked how the police department addresses domestic and sexual violence, Roessler said they use the Lethality Assessment Program — Maryland Model to assess the situation and connect victims with immediate help, such as counselors, attorneys or volunteers from the community.

Photo via Youtube Live

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is inviting locals to join his upcoming virtual event with Fairfax County’s police chief.

Alcorn plans to host the virtual town hall with Chief of Police Edwin Roessler Jr. from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1.

Hunter Mill District residents can join in the discussion on the police department and the community by asking questions or providing input on policing topics, according to an email from Alcorn’s office. People who cannot attend the event live can email questions to the Hunter Mill District Office.

Participants will have a number of ways of joining the town hall, which will be hosted on Webex.

People can either register to attend via Webex, watch on YouTube Live or listen in by calling 1-408-418-9388 and using the access code 129 359 7948.

Once the event ends, the YouTube video will be available on the Hunter Mill District website sometime on Thursday evening, according to the email.

Alcorn photo via Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Facebook, Roessler photo via Fair

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At last night’s town hall meeting by the Fairfax County NAACP, the organization’s president Sean Perryman met with local elected officials and community leaders to discuss the future of policing.

Since the killing of George Floyd in police custody and outrage over racial inequities in the U.S., the NAACP compiled a list of policy changes for how to address how police use force and report actions to the public.

Top demands for reform include:

  • removing police from schools
  • reporting data efficiently
  • implementing body-worn cameras
  • reporting officer misconduct
  • reviewing the use of force policy
  • demilitarizing the police force
  • mandating counseling/early intervention

Perryman said that the Fairfax County Police Department needs to see policy and budget overhauls to end systemic racism and better serve the community. Perryman said that nearly half the police use of force in the area is used against Black individuals even though they make up 10% of the population.

At the meeting, the attendees, which included Supervisors Dalia Pakchik, John Foust, Walter Alcorn and Chairman Jeff McKay, all agreed that changes are needed to improve the safety and security of every Fairfax County resident.

Fairfax County Police Chief  Edwin Roessler Jr. expressed a willingness to work with the NAACP on the proposed changes.

“I don’t think I oppose in whole any one of these items,” Roessler said, but added that there might be stipulations on certain topics.

A point of confusion at the meeting was about the transparency of data. Though everyone agreed that data is important to tracking issues and upcoming solutions, no one was on the same page when it came to the type of data and release date.

The FCPD police chief said that recent data on use of force data and school arrests should be released to McKay later this week, but the department is transitioning to a new data management system to achieve the goal.

“We have a lot of promises for data and more transparency but we aren’t actually getting the data,” Perryman said, adding that this data needs to be not only released to the county board, but also to the public.

“This would give the community some insight into what is happening,” Perryman said, adding that this data needs to include other information such as traffic stops and the races of officers and civilians involved.

The conversation on body-worn cameras for officers revolved around best practices and use.

Perryman suggested that officers shouldn’t be allowed to choose when to use them, calling it “an essential part of transparency,” he said.

“It is a waste of equipment, essentially a lens with a price tag, if there is no policy in place that prevents officers from turning this off or selectively turning it on,” he added.

When it comes to budget and funding, Perryman doesn’t believe the department should receive extra money from the state or the county for this project, suggesting that the cost should come from internal budget shifts.

“What we’ve seen in the past when there is a problem with the police, we give them more money to get more toys and we think that needs to stop,” Perryman said. “I don’t think there is an appetite for it here in the country or anywhere else actually.”

The town hall also addressed concerns with civilian review panels.

Tn the past, the panels have struggled to “have teeth,” according to Roessler, who added that the General Assembly would need to correct that.

Though there are challenges, Perryman said that people need to stop pointing fingers and create a substantial plan. He wants the panel to be independent and have the power to investigative incidents independently.

“This has to be a group that can stand up and can make clear recommendations to us,” McKay agreed. “I’ll be happy to work with you on the roster.”

Later in the meeting, Alcorn spoke up and talked about limiting the presence of firearms in the community.

“I’m not sure sending out folks with firearms is the best approach in 2020,” Alcorn said, adding that when someone calls 911, depending on the situation, there are better ways to address a community need.

Supervisors Palchik and Foust offered their support to continue the conversation with both FCPD and Fairfax County NAACP about new policies and best practices.

“We are not immune from making the types of reforms that are necessary to build the kind of confidence that everyone should have in our law enforcement agencies,” McKay said. “The most important thing for elected officials to do right now is to listen.”

Photo via Facebook Live

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Fairfax County officials want to see the rollout of body-worn cameras for Fairfax County police happen as soon as possible to increase transparency with policing.

“The events in the last couple of weeks both across the country and in Fairfax made the importance of expanding the police body-worn camera program apparent both for improved public safety and transparency,” Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement.

Yesterday, the Board of Supervisors approved asking county staff to look for potential revenue sources to implement the second phase of the program as quickly as possible. The county directed staff to report back by June 30 with the funding options and a potential timeline for the rest of the phases.

McKay said that the county wants to resume the implementation of the program’s second phase during the 2021 fiscal year.

Earlier this year, the county board delayed funding for the phased program due to budget challenges posed by COVID-19, but still kept an increase of $1.77 million increase for the first phase of the program.

Three county district stations already have the cameras, including the Reston District Station.

The motion follows recent calls from several supervisors, including Walter Alcorn and John Foust, to continue the program in the other parts of the county.

County officials are looking for ways to move forward with the program in response to rising concerns about police transparency and use of force following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a Fairfax County police officer allegedly assaulting a black man in the Mt. Vernon area. The Fairfax County officer is facing three counts of misdemeanor assault and battery.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said that he was initially willing to delay the cameras before, but now said he sees an immediate need for the cameras.

Storck noted that the body-worn camera footage of the Mt. Vernon incident, which the police department released on Sunday (June 7), “dramatically changed” conversations between the police and the community.

Storck added that the police officers he’s spoken to support the cameras.

“I join my colleagues in deep disappointment in what we saw on that police camera this weekend,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said. “It shows that it works.”

McKay mentioned said that the action of a handful of officers — “is not indicative” of the thousands of officers in the Fairfax County Police Department. McKay called the police department “committed” and “well trained.”

He thanked both the police chief and commonwealth’s attorney for their “quick response” to the incident.

Fairfax County Adding Equity Task Force

Work to speed up the police cameras is one of several steps the county is taking to address inequity.

“There is no one policy or program we can enact today that will solve every issue,” McKay said, pointing to previous efforts like adding the county’s Police Civilian Review Panel and independent police auditor.

The Board of Supervisors also unveiled yesterday a new equity task force. “We know this is an issue that requires constant vigilance,” McKay said.

“The Chairman’s Taskforce on Equity and Opportunity will explore the range of situations and conditions that contribute to disproportionate trends, facilitate shared responsibility and collective action, build on the strengths of our community, and lift up solutions to make all residents and neighborhoods more resilient,” according to county documents.

McKay said that the task force will be coordinated by Karla Bruce, the county’s chief equity officer, and her staff with his office. Costs will be absorbed within the existing budget, McKay said.

Each supervisor will provide recommendations for who should serve on the task force, McKay said. He added that the county is aiming for a geographically and demographically balanced membership “to make sure this group is attempting to represent this county as a whole.”

Palchik noted that the county took the “first step forward as we battle through this crisis,” adding that she wants the county to address housing and pre-K programs to combat inequity.

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Police Now Accept Donated Face Coverings — Fairfax County police stations are now accepting donated face coverings. Each station has a donation bin to place items. [Fairfax County Government]

Nearby: Police Search for Missing Man — Local police are searching for Sheng You Ho, 80, who was last seen on May 31 leaving the 3100 block fo Colchester Brook Lane. Ho was driving a Mercury Cougar and is endangered due to mental or physical health concerns. [Fairfax County Police Department]

County Board to Receive Health Update Today — The Fairfax County Board of Directors will receive an update from Fairfax County Health Department Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu today at 1:30 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Job Opportunity; County Hiring Contact Tracers — The county is hiring contact tracers to “each out to all Fairfax County, VA contacts of persons with probable or confirmed COVID-19 infection, counsel them on testing and quarantine, refer them for testing, and connect them to necessary resources throughout their quarantine.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Friday Morning Notes

Local Police Investigate Attempting Robbery — A man attempted to take cash from a truck driver while he was sitting in his vehicle on  May 13 at around 3:50 p.m. The incident happened on the 1500 block of Cameron Crescent Drive. The suspect ran away and no injuries were reported. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Reston Woman Creates “Dating While Gray” Podcast — “On Thursday, Laura Stassi of Reston posted the latest episode of “Dating While Gray,” a biweekly podcast focusing on love and relationships in the 50-and-over crowd. The new episode marks the end of the podcast’s first 10-episode season. The 59-year-old writer and editor, who has authored several nonfiction children’s books, never imagined she would get the chance to host her own podcast. It’s not what she had planned.” [Reston Patch]

Reston Association Board Elects Officers — At a meeting earlier this week, the Board of Directors elected four of its officers for the coming year. Julie Bitzer is president, Caren Anton is vice president, John Mooney is secretary and Robert Petrine is treasurer. [Reston Association]

Face Coverings Required on Fairfax Connector — Passengers on Fairfax Connector buses must wear face coverings starting on Monday, May 18. But passengers have a weeklong grace period through Monday, May 24. The county’s transportation department previously only encouraged wearing face coverings. [Fairfax County Government]

Cause of Great Falls House Fire Under Investigation — Authorities are investigating why a house on the 800 block of Walker Road caught fire on Tuesday, May 12. One resident was displaced as a result of the incident. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Airbags were stolen from at least a dozen cars in Herndon over two days, according to police.

The incidents happened overnight on May 6 and May 7 at the Ashton at Dulles Corner apartments. A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Police Department told Reston Now the incidents are under investigation.

Residents of the apartment complex reported that only Hondas were targeted during the airbag theft streak.

Airbags, which can sell for hundreds of dollars on the black market, are easily removable and portable, allowing thieves to make a quick buck.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau says that airbags retail at around $1,000 and can be purchased on the black market for between $50 and $200.

The NICB offers the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of airbag fraud:

  • Use a reputable automobile collision repair shop that employs ASE-certified mechanics
  • Inspect the invoice to ensure the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer or recycler
  • If possible, inspect the airbag prior to installation. If new, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer
  • The trim cover over the steering column should be the same color as the remaining trim interior. If not, it is an indication that the original airbag has been replaced
  • When you turn on your vehicle’s ignition, a red SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) indicator should light up and flash in the instrument panel display, indicating the airbag system is activated. No SRS light indicates a problem with the airbag system that could result in no airbag activation

Some national reports indicate that newer models of Hondas might be at higher risk of airbag thefts.

Photo via Megan Marie

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The Fairfax County Police Department is asking the public to help find a 75-year-old Reston resident who went missing Sunday night.

Police said Michael Delaney was seen shortly after 9 p.m. in the 1800 block of Town Center Parkway. He is 6’3”, 170 pounds, and has blue eyes and gray hair. ,

He was last seen wearing a yellow hospital gown, jeans, and a black jacket.

Police believe he is endangered due to physical or mental health concerns.

Anyone with more information should call 703-691-2131.

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Fairfax County police are investigating a shooting that they say took place in front of a 7-Eleven in Herndon early Thursday (May 7) morning.

After receiving a report for possible gunshots, police said that they found out that a man was being treated for a non-serious gunshot wound at a local hospital.

“Further investigation determined the shooting took place in front of [13190 Parcher Avenue],” police said, adding that the front of the 7-Eleven at that address was damaged.

Police also said that they found several shell casings in the area.

The case is currently an active investigation, according to police. Anyone who has information can contact the police department at 703-246-7800

File photo

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Reston Man Charged on Outstanding Warrants — Lewis Rose, 33, of Reston, was arrested on two outstanding warrants for burglary and grand larceny. He was seen “acting disorderly” and trying to steal his ex-girlfriend’s car on April 29, according to police. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Services for Former Police Captain Darryl Smith Begin Today — A local funeral home will live stream the funeral services and graveside committal service with police honors of Smith, who served as a Herndon Police Department captain and the police chief of the Purcellville Police Department. [Adams-Green Funeral Home]

Virginia Dental Practices to Reopen — “Some Virginia dental practices will reopen their doors to patients on Friday. On Wednesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the Commonwealth would allow its temporary ban on medical and dental elective procedures to expire after April 30. Dental offices could only perform emergency procedures or surgeries prior to the ban’s implementation, according to the governor’s office.[WUSA 9]

Reston Citizens Association Creates Local Restaurant Guide — The nonprofit organization has created a local restaurant guide with takeout and delivery options. The document can be downloaded online. [Reston Citizens Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Delays are expected for the rollout of the Fairfax County Police Department’s body-worn camera program.

In Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill’s revised budget for fiscal year 2021, the county plans to push back funding for 338 cameras for the Sully, McLean, and West Springfield Stations in the second year of the program.

The county is also revisiting funding plans for 456 cameras for the third year of the program at the Fair Oaks, Franconia and South County district stations.

The proposed budget — which was scaled back considerably in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — maintains an increase of $1.77 million to support the first full year of the program.

Funding is expected to remain for 416 cameras that will be issued to the Reston, Mason and Mt. Vernon police stations, according to county budget documents.

“The funding supports the maintenance of the program implemented in FY 2020 but does not expand the program as originally planned.”

In late 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved $4 million to begin implementation of the program.

Officers in the Reston District Station were expected to receive the cameras next month.

Photo via FCPD

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Burglary Reported on Friday — A burglar broke into a home on the 1500 block of Cameron Crescent Drive on Friday and stole personal property. Information about the incident was released yesterday. [Fairfax County Police Department]

High Honors for School Psychology Services  — “Fairfax County Public Schools School Psychology Services has been recognized in the Excellence in School Psychological Services Recognition Program with an Exemplary rating from the National Association of School Psychologists. FCPS was the only school district in the U.S. to receive an Exemplary rating, the highest rating available.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

County Board to Dive into Budget — The county executive will present his budget proposal to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a meeting today (Tuesday). The meeting will be televised on Channel 16 and streamed live online. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

In-person Absentee Voting Underway — This past weekend, in-person absentee voting opened at 13 locations in the county. Locally, the Herndon Fortnightly Library will be open Mondays through Fridays from 3-7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Library Coalition Proposes County Plan — “The Coalition to Expand Library Access formally launched its “It’s About Time” campaign with an information meeting for community groups on Feb. 6 at the George Mason Regional Library in Annandale.” [Fairfax County Times]

County Police Mourns Passing of K9 — The Fairfax County Police Department is remembering K9 Doby, the department’s “four-legged brother” who died unexpectedly while responding to an armed robbery. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A man was arrested in connection with an indecent exposure incident on Tuesday (Feb. 4).

Joseph Flynn, 61, was arrested and charged with peeping, indecent exposure, and drunk in public, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

Police believe Flynn was watching a woman in her home on the 11600 block of Charter Oak Court at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday. The woman said the man was watching her while exposing himself.

FCPD did not release a photo of the suspect, which is being held at the Adult Detention Center. Information about the incident was released earlier this morning.

Photo via FCPD

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Blackboard Inc. Opens New Global Headquarters — The leading education technology company officially opened the doors of its new global headquarters in Plaza America on Monday. The company considered “best value, convenience to public transportation, commuter routes, airports, and life-style amenities” when making the decision to choose Reston. [PR Newswire]

Big Activity at Reston Station — Chris Clemente, Comstock’s CEO, talks about “big activity” at Reston Station. [Commercial Observer]

Sunoco Gas Station in Herndon Robbed — The gas station on 12370 Coppermine Road was robbed on Friday, Jan. 25. Police believe a man threatened a store clerk with a knife and took off with cash and merchandise. The suspect is described as black and in his 20s. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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