Reston, VA

Morning Notes

New Fairfax County Police Chief Sworn In — Kevin Davis was formally sworn in as Fairfax County’s new police chief yesterday morning (Monday). The former Baltimore police commissioner begins his tenure amid intense scrutiny of his past conduct and the county’s hiring process. [FCPD]

Republican Attorney General Candidate Calls for Recount — Former Virginia Beach Republican Party Chairman Chuck Smith is requesting a recount after he lost the party’s nomination for attorney general to Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) by a 52-48 margin on Sunday (May 9). The state’s Republican Party held a convention on Saturday to determine its nominees in statewide races for governor and lieutenant governor as well. [WTOP]

Reston Station Architect Killed in Car Crash — Architect Helmut Jahn, 81, died on Saturday (May 8) after he was struck by two separate cars while bicycling in the Chicago suburb of Campton Hills. Jahn’s work includes the plaza at Reston Station and the development’s first office building, where Google is planning to expand. [Patch]

Frying Pan Farm Park Ranks Second in RegionFrying Pan Farm Park was named the second-best park in Northern Virginia by Virginia Living readers in the magazine’s “Best of Virginia 2021” competition, coming behind only Burke Lake Park. The Herndon park features a carousel, equestrian facilities, and Kidwell Farm, a living interpretation of a 1930s-era working farm. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Herndon Summer Camps and Classes Announced — The Herndon Parks and Recreation Department has released a brochure of summer camps and June classes, which will be tweaked due to COVID-19. Camps will run from mid-June to mid-August, and offerings could expand depending on community health conditions. Registration begins at 10 a.m. on Wednesday (May 12) for town residents and and at 10 a.m. on May 18 for non-town residents. [Herndon Recreation]

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(Updated 5:00 p.m.) Kevin Davis’s first challenge as Fairfax County’s new police chief is to earn the public’s trust, and if the community input session held last night (Thursday) was any indication, it will be a formidable task.

In a virtual discussion that lasted more than two hours, caller after caller expressed dismay at what they believe was insufficient transparency and community engagement from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors during the hiring process, leading many to question that if the county made the right decision in appointing Davis.

“The Board’s closed-door deliberations and no community involvement in the vetting process left us in the dark. This, coupled with press revelations after the selection, rendered the process fatally flawed,” Diane Burkley Alejandro, lead advocate for the immigrant rights organization ACLU Power People Fairfax, said during the session.

Late last month, NBC4 reported that Davis had faced — and lost — civil lawsuits in the 1990s related to the use of force and unconstitutional detainment while on the job in Prince George’s County.

Callers also brought up concerns about Davis’ authorization of secret aerial surveillance while he was Baltimore’s police commissioner as well as comments he made in a 2020 Baltimore Sun op-ed about defunding the police.

The Board of Supervisors acknowledged that the community has expressed concerns about Davis’s record in a broad statement earlier this week, but county leaders have not wavered from their position that he was the best choice to lead the Fairfax County Police Department and implement the reforms that the board has been seeking.

“Your hiring of Mr. Davis in today’s environment is just plain tone deaf,” Hunter Mill District resident Diana Smith said yesterday, directing her ire to the board. “…It sends a really negative message. I think this was a really flawed decision based on a really flawed process, which led to a flawed selection of a candidate.”

A number of callers backed Fairfax County NAACP’s call last week for a new police chief search, a stance that has won support from other community groups throughout the week.

“I and other community organizations expressed not only the lack of community engagement but the type of community engagement. It’s fine to check a box and say ‘we did a survey, we had community meetings’ but was that enough and were we really heard?” Amanda Andere, a member of the Chairman’s Equity Task Force, said. “We need to start over. We need a process rooted in equity that starts and ends with community input.”

For Davis’s part, he acknowledged the criticisms in his opening remarks and said that he made mistakes over the years but plans to continue to work to gain the community’s trust.

“I have certainly changed, grown, and have learned many lessons throughout the course of my career,” Davis said in response to one caller. “Every year along my journey, I’ve learned more and have become more attuned to community expectations and sensitivities…Was it always a perfect journey? No.”

Throughout the night, Davis reiterated that he was proud of his career, the progress he’s made in terms of building trust with communities of color, and his belief that he has been “one of the most progressive reform leaders in our country.”

“I’ll follow my own mother’s advice…by being the best chief of police I can possibly be,” Davis said. Read More

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Morning Notes

New Police Chief to Speak at Public Input Session — Community members will get their first chance to talk to new Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis at 7 p.m. on Thursday (May 6). Local civil rights groups have criticized Davis’s past record and a hiring process they say lacked transparency and public involvement, prompting the county board to issue a statement last night reaffirming its support for Davis. [Supervisor Rodney Lusk/Twitter]

Fairway Apartments Sold to Swedish Investor — Swedish investment firm Akelius has acquired Fairway Apartments, a 346-unit apartment community near Reston Town Center, from JBG for $93 million. Akelius says it plans to add new washers and dryers, renovate some kitchens and bathrooms, and make other minor upgrades to the property, which is 97% occupied. [Bisnow]

More Spots Open for Tour de Hunter Mill — More registrations are now available for the Tour de Hunter Mill bicycle ride that will take cyclists through Reston, Vienna, and Tysons on May 15. The event has expanded in response to Virginia easing restrictions on public gatherings that day, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s office. [Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

Herndon IT Firm Acquired by McLean Contractor — “McLean, Virginia-based government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton will acquire Herndon, Virginia-based Liberty IT Solutions LLC for $725 million. Liberty IT Solutions has about 600 employees…Its work includes IT modernization projects for government agencies and in the health care industry.” [WTOP]

Nonprofit Food Pantry Distribution Helps 260 Local Families — “We’re happy to have assisted 260 families from the Herndon, Springfield, Chantilly, Alexandria, and Centreville area with groceries, toiletries, fresh produce and store gift cards to help with pantry staple purchases.” [Cornerstones/Twitter]

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The Fairfax County chapter of the NAACP is not impressed by the search process and resulting hire of Kevin Davis as the county’s new police chief, effective May 3, and is calling for a do-over.

“The Fairfax County NAACP does not have confidence in the process by which the new Police Chief was hired — or its results — and requests that the County, in collaboration with the community, conduct a transparent search for a new Police Chief together,” President Karen Campblin wrote in a statement released yesterday (April 29).

Campblin called the process “deeply troubling” and expressed disappointment in “the lack of transparency and accountability to the public.”

She notes that the hiring process stands in stark contrast to the county’s last police chief search in 2013, when residents were directly involved in candidate evaluations and interviews.

In 2013, a panel of 20 community members, including police union representatives and faith leaders, considered 40 to 50 candidates and recommended three finalists to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, according to The Washington Post.

Ultimately, Edwin C. Roessler Jr. was selected for the job. His retirement in February prompted the county’s search for a new Fairfax County Police Department leader.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says that the county conducted “an extensive interview and outreach process” when looking for Roessler’s successor that involved over 275 community meetings and calls, over 450 emails to stakeholders, and a community survey that received over 3,000 responses.

“The entire Board was unanimous in their confidence in Kevin Davis’s ability to lead our Department and to further our already ongoing Board of Supervisor’s directed policing reforms,” McKay said in a statement.

However, the results of the survey have not been made public, and Campblin says the county board has provided little justification to the public regarding what distinguished Davis from other candidates.

“At a minimum, the results of a county-wide survey that was supposed to be used to help guide the search and interviews, should have been presented to the Board of Supervisors at a regularly scheduled meeting and made readily available for public review,” she wrote. “The Board also should have provided a better understanding of the reasons it believes Mr. Davis is the best candidate to run the FCPD.”

The civil rights organization also says it is concerned about the NBC4 Washington report on two lawsuits from earlier in Davis’s time as a police officer in Prince George’s County. One of the cases involved an inappropriate use of force and accusations of racist mistreatment, while the other was related to false imprisonment.

The victims won both civil lawsuits.

“These reports raised concerns for the life and safety of our youth, members with disabilities, LGBTQ, and BIPOC communities,” Campblin said.

In his statement, McKay reiterated his support for the new police chief and his belief that Davis will help the county implement “critical reforms” to address systemic inequities in policing, sentiments that he expressed to Reston Now earlier this week.

“Through our interview process, Mr. Davis demonstrated a complete understanding and commitment to improving policing, promoting transparency, and building relationships in the community,” McKay said. “In addition, following conversations with leaders across the region as well as people who have directly worked with him, it is clear that they also have tremendous confidence in his abilities.”

Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who chairs the board’s public safety committee, reaffirmed the county’s decision while expressing some skepticism of the validity of NBC4’s report.

“Based on my conversations with Mr. Davis during the interview process, and since his selection, I am confident that he is the best choice to lead the Fairfax County Police Department,” Lusk said. “I am concerned that recent media reports regarding Mr. Davis’s record may not accurately reflect the events in question.”

Lusk says that he and McKay will host a public forum “in the coming days” where he hopes Davis will address the reported incidents.

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Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay remains confident in the board’s choice of former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis as the county’s next police chief, despite reports that he previously faced lawsuits over use-of-force incidents.

With Davis set to assume his new position on Monday (May 3), McKay told Reston Now in a statement that he continues to support the new police chief.

“The history of policing has not centered around the safety of all members of the community. That is a systemic problem we are always working on in Fairfax County,” McKay wrote. “After an extensive interview and outreach process, the entire Board felt confident in Chief Davis’s ability to lead and further reforms to policing. We look forward to everyone in the community engaging with the new Police Chief and engaging in their own conversations with him.”

The board of supervisors unanimously voted on Friday (April 23) to appoint the former Baltimore police commissioner and Prince George’s County assistant police chief to lead the Fairfax County Police Department.

At the time, Fairfax County Board Supervisor Jeff McKay hailed Davis and said in a statement that he would “continue Fairfax’s work on police reform, build on the deep community involvement and relationships with stakeholders, and improve morale within the police department.”

However, NBC4 Washington reported earlier this week that Davis had lost at least two civil lawsuits related to inappropriate use-of-force and false imprisonment while he was on the job in Prince George’s County.

One of the lawsuits was related to a 1993 incident where Davis reportedly stopped law student Mark Spann in front of his family’s Maryland home.

“At that point, Davis says, ‘Give me your hands’ and lodges me to the ground, throws me to the ground, and proceeds to mash my face into the pavement,” Spann told NBC 4.  He also said that Davis continued to intimidate him with a baton on the drive to the hospital and subjected him to further insults.

“I have to this date never experienced such racial slants, slurs and epitaphs and the denigration,” Spann said.

Spann has dried blood on his face in footage from an interview that NBC4 conducted with him in 1993.

According to NBC4, Spann was charged with battery, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but it remains unclear on why Davis pulled him over in the first place.

Another lawsuit filed six years later accused Davis of false imprisonment when he was sergeant in the Prince George’s County Police Department. The victim also won that case.

Davis, for his part, told NBC 4 in a statement that he was “proud of my long career,” which he says includes a history of reform, a commitment to diversity, body camera implementation, police displicne transparency, and use of force de-escalation.

He will be tasked with the full implementation of Fairfax County’s body camera program throughout 2021. So far, cameras have been deployed at five of the police department’s eight district stations, including in the Reston District.

Davis succeeds Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Dave Rohrer, who was serving as interim chief since February when Chief Edwin C. Roessler retired. Read More

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A 30-year-old man from Reston died yesterday (Tuesday) after being transported to a hospital from the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office says.

Identified as Christopher Fojt by Fairfax County police, the man was found unresponsive in his cell around 11 p.m. last Thursday (April 22) by a post deputy.

“The deputy immediately rendered aid until relieved by ADC medical personnel,” the sheriff’s office says in a news release. “Rescue arrived, continued lifesaving measures and transported the inmate to a hospital.”

Fojt was was pronounced dead by hospital personnel at 7:29 p.m. on April 27.

In its own news release, the Fairfax County Police Department says that an autopsy will be conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, but “preliminarily, there are no signs of foul play.”

Detectives from the FCPD’s major crimes bureau are currently investigating the incident as an in-custody death, as required by the sheriff’s office’s policies.

According to the sheriff’s office, Fojt was being held without bond at the adult detention center since the evening of April 21. He faced multiple charges, including “possession of a schedule I or II drug with a firearm on or about his person.”

Our detectives are coordinating with the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office to gather the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic event,” the FCPD said.

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Morning Notes

FY 2022 Budget Markup Approved — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a markup package for the county’s fiscal year 2022 budget yesterday (Tuesday) that includes a 1% pay raise for county government employees and an additional $15 million for Fairfax County Public Schools, partly to support compensation increases. [Fairfax County Government]

Virginia Reviewing New Mask Guidelines — The CDC released new guidance yesterday (Tuesday) stating that people who have been fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks outdoors except when in a big crowd of strangers. Gov. Ralph Northam’s press secretary said in a statement that the governor’s office is reviewing the guidelines “to determine if and where we need to make changes” to Virginia’s mask requirements. [Office of the Governor]

New Police Chief Use-of-Force Record Scrutinized — Incoming Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis lost two lawsuits over his use of force when he worked in the Prince George’s County Police Department in the 1990s. In the first case, the plaintiff said Davis pulled him over without giving a reason and violently arrested him, while the second victim alleged that “Davis and other officers essentially kidnapped him for a night.” [NBC4]

Nonprofit Hits Record for Food Donations to Feed StudentsFood for Neighbors received more than 21,000 pounds of food from over 1,200 households during its April 24th Red Bag Program food collection, including 5,547 pounds from 366 households in Herndon and Reston neighborhoods. [Patch]

Reston Defense Contractor Acquires Seattle-Based AI CompanySAIC announced on Monday (April 26) that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Koverse, a software company that “provides a data management platform enabling artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning on complex, sensitive data.” [Koverse]

Community Helps Reston Resident with Medical Expenses — A GoFundMe for Reston resident David Vlcek, who suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, has raised more than $55,000, getting the fundraiser halfway to its $100,000 goal. Started by a family friend, the campaign funds will help defray medical costs not covered by insurance and pay for airfare for Vlcek’s parents, who need to travel from the Czech Republic. [Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis will be the new Fairfax County chief of police, effective May 3.

After emerging from a closed session, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this afternoon (Friday) to appoint Davis to lead the Fairfax County Police Department. He will succeed Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Dave Rohrer, who has been serving as an interim chief since former Chief Edwin C. Roessler retired in February.

“This is a humbling moment for me,” Davis said on a video call with the supervisors. “I will take it very seriously and I promise not to let you down.”

The decision came after a firm hired by the county conducted a nationwide search that involved more than 275 community meetings and calls, more than 450 emails sent to stakeholders, and a survey that received more than 3,000 responses, according to the county.

The Board of Supervisors “strongly weighed” the survey results in the final hiring decision, the county said.

“We are delighted to have you on board,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay said. “We look forward to working with you on behalf of our community.”

Speaking to FCPD officers, Davis said, “You guys are a great agency. I want to say that loudly and clearly.”

“Is there room for improvement? Of course. Are you up to the task? Of course. Is change sometimes hard or difficult? Absolutely,” he said. “We have to seize this moment and continue to get better.”

Davis said earning trust starts with establishing legitimacy and paying attention to communities of color and people who are vulnerable and underserved.

“We have to meet you where you are, be better listeners, be less defensive and quite frankly, see you,” he said.

On accountability, Davis said he will “call balls and strikes.” And as for reform, he told police officers that the county has already embarked on a number of common-sense reforms and encouraged them to embrace this process.

“Reform is what we do for police officers, not to them,” he said. “It makes you better, it earns you better relationships with the community.”

In a statement released shortly after, McKay said Davis is recognized across the region as a leader in police reform, has a strong reputation, and is well-respected in the communities in which he has served.

“As this nation looks to transform policing to make the community safer for everyone, we have the opportunity for a fresh perspective to further our work on police reform in Fairfax County,” McKay said. “After thorough interviews, the entire Board is confident that Kevin Davis will continue Fairfax’s work on police reform, build on the deep community involvement and relationships with stakeholders, and improve morale within the police department.”

According to the county, Davis served as the City of Baltimore’s police commissioner from 2015 to 2018. He had previously served as chief of police of Anne Arundel County in Maryland from 2013 to 2014, and as assistant chief of the Prince George’s County Police Department from 1992 to 2013. Most recently, he has worked as director of consulting services for GardaWorld.

Davis will receive an annual salary of $215,000.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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A baby squirrel rescued by Animal Protection Police (Photo via Friends of Fairfax County Animal Protection Police/Facebook)

A sick bald eagle. A lost fawn. A rogue alligator in Reston. Who are you going to call? Fairfax County’s Animal Protection Police.

Made up of more than 25 specially-trained law enforcement officers within the Fairfax County Police Department, the APP’s responsibility is to enforce ordinances and to help protect humans and animals alike.

While they do assist in domestic animal situations, in recent years, they’ve received more and more calls for sick and distressed wildlife, Sgt. Daniel Cook says.

A 20-year veteran of the force, he believes this has to do with the ever-growing human population in the county.

“The population here, the housing market, the number of homes being constructed, it’s all steadily increasing,” Cook says. “So, there’s more and more people here. There’s going to be more and more interaction with wildlife.” 

Cook says that calls have increased a little more than he anticipated in the last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is related, he thinks, to folks being outside more, enjoying and observing nature.

“There are more people out in the parks. There’s more people around, looking,” Cook said.

Spring is always a busy time of year for the Animal Protection Police, since it is breeding season for many creatures.

“We get a lot of baby calls. A lot of baby raccoons, baby foxes, squirrels, birds, rabbits. You name it, we get ’em,” Cook said.

He says, for the most part, when they get calls about baby animals, there’s nothing wrong. For example, fawns are often left in one particular spot for hours by their parents.

“The first thing that goes through a lot of people’s minds is that [the animal] has been abandoned,” he says. “In reality, it has not.”

Cook says that humans should observe at a distance and refrain from touching the animals.

“We really don’t want people…handling the wildlife themselves,” he said.

If there’s something really wrong, as in cases where the animal is injured or sick, the APP will come out.

In those cases, many animals end up with licensed rehabilitators or veterinarians, who will help them heal and, hopefully, get released back into the wild.

From time to time, the APP does get some rather atypical calls.

In December 2019, they got a call about a bald eagle that turned out to be sick from lead poisoning, likely from eating fish with high levels of lead in them.

The eagle was rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

There was also Lord Fairfax, a 65-pound snapping turtle found in the county’s Alexandria area, and a rogue alligator, both one-time illegal pets that folks didn’t want any more.

“I think it was a year, maybe two years ago, we had an alligator up in Reston that somebody released into one of the lakes,” Cook said. “I think a citizen actually caught that, if I’m remembering correctly.”

Alligators and other exotic animals are illegal without proper licenses both in Fairfax County and Virginia.

Cook has pretty simple advice for anyone who spots any animal that they think might be in distress: “Number one, leave the wildlife alone. Keep an eye on it…and give us a call.”

The Animal Protection Police can be reached at FCPD’s non-emergency phone number, 703-691-2131.

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(Updated at 9:50 a.m. on 4/21/2021) Local officials and organizations expressed relief at the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd, while also reiterating a need to address inequities and discrimination within the criminal justice system.

Yesterday (April 20), Minneapolis, Minn., police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter for killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by kneeling on his neck. Captured on video, Floyd’s murder spurred protests against police brutality around the world, including in Fairfax County.

Within minutes of the verdict, the Fairfax County Police Department and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay shared their separate statements together.

Notably, FCPD’s statement does not specifically mention the trial or the guilty verdict, but does speak to their ongoing reform efforts and repairing trust in the community.

Del. Ibraheem Samirah, who represents the 86th District, including the Town of Herndon, also released a comment via social media, saying that it shouldn’t have taken “a massive media focus to ensure justice is served for Black and Brown people.”

The Fairfax County chapter of the NAACP released a statement earlier in the day calling for peace no matter the verdict.

After the guilty verdict were announced, the organization re-posted NAACP national’s message on Facebook, which read:

“Justice has prevailed in the case against #GeorgeFloyds killer #DerekChauvin, but the work is not done! We must keep fighting to end qualified immunity, and we must get #PoliceReformNOW.”

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand also provided a statement saying that students and staff are “experiencing a range of emotions” about the verdict and that the school system is constantly working to create an environment where racism and hate are not tolerated.

“There is no justice in the loss of loved one,” he said.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano tweeted that the verdict was “a first step toward justice and accountability,” but he also called Chauvin’s trial “a dramatic reminder of the pain countless Black Americans experience as a result of a justice system that too often devalues their lives.”

Several of Fairfax County’s Congressional representatives said via social media that they agreed with the verdict.

Rep. Jennifer Wexton called it “a good day for justice.” Rep. Gerry Connolly wrote that the verdict was “just,” adding that “far too many Black lives have been cut short” and “we owe them real, structural change.”

“The jury confirms what we saw: Derek Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd,” Rep. Don Beyer said on Twitter. “I’m thinking about George Floyd, his family and friends, who have been through such much.”

Wexton and Sen. Mark Warner urged their colleagues in Congress to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would require police to wear body cameras, establish a national registry for records of police misconduct, and limit qualified immunity as a defense in civil lawsuits against law enforcement officers, among other reforms.

Reston Now reached out to the Fairfax County Police Association for comment but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Photo by Nick Papetti

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Morning Notes

Phase 2 of COVID-19 Vaccinations Begins — Fairfax County officially entered Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout yesterday, making everyone 16 and older eligible. With the county retiring its registration system, appointments can be scheduled directly with providers through VaccineFinder, though limited supplies means they might be initially hard to come by. [Fairfax County Health Department/Twitter]

Fairfax County Gets First Community Vaccination Center — Fairfax County’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination site will open tomorrow in the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner. The facility can accommodate about 3,000 people per day and will eventually be listed as an available site on VaccineFinder after the county health department finishes getting through its waitlist from Phase 1. [Tysons Reporter]

Former Fairfax County Police Officer’s Cases Under Scrutiny — “A Virginia judge on Friday [April 16] agreed to toss out the 2019 conviction of former D.C. firefighter Elon Wilson on drug and gun charges, agreeing with defense attorneys and Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano that racial bias may have been at play in the arresting officer’s initial stop and arrest. Descano…said the case was one of more than 400 stops by a former Fairfax County police officer his office has been investigating.” [DCist]

Virginia Reports First Cases of Brazil COVID-19 Variant — The novel coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil has been found in two samples from Virginia residents. One was an adult resident of the Northwest Region with a history of domestic travel during the exposure period, and the other was an adult resident of the Eastern Region with no history of travel. [Virginia Department of Health]

Celebrate Earth Day at Colvin Mill Run — “Looking for a volunteer opportunity this #EarthDay? On Thurs, April 22, Colvin Run Mill will be hosting a weeding and mulching party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. They’d love to have you spend a little time helping with the effort!” [Supervisor John Foust/Twitter]

Reston Author Publishes Children’s Book — Reston resident Jessica Sizemore turned the story of how her family came to adopt a dog named Rascal into her first published book. A Virginia Tech graduate, she started to write the book in 2016 and began the publishing process in 2019 with Herndon-based publisher Mascot Books. [Fairfax County Times]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Hospital Center has again partnered with the Fairfax County Police Department to host a drug collection site in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take Back Day on April 24.

Located at 1850 Town Center Parkway, the hospital’s collection site will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for visitors to drop off unused or expired opioid medications. It will be situated in the circular drive at the Pavilion 1 rear entrance, which will also be available for drive-thru drop-offs.

Reston Hospital Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Taghon says the “Crush the Crisis” drug take-back day is an especially vital initiative this year, as the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic could be contributing to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

“Stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be exacerbating the opioid crisis by causing Americans to have feelings of anxiety, grief, social isolation, financial worry, and general uncertainty, all of which can affect those with substance use disorders and those at risk of developing one,” Taghon said. “Now, more than ever, it’s critically important to get unused pain medications out of homes and to educate the community about the serious threat of opioid misuse and abuse.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. saw the number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids more than quadruple from 1999 to 2019, with nearly 247,000 people dying over the time period.

The Fairfax County Health Department called opioids the top cause of unnatural death in the county. They were linked to 83 deaths in 2018, including 70 that involved heroin or fentanyl.

For the upcoming drug take-back day, Reston Hospital volunteers will collect tablets, capsules, and patches of the following drugs:

  • Hydrocodone (Norco, Lortab, Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet)
  • Tramadol (Ultram)
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Morphine
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)

However, needles, syringes, lancets, or liquids will not be accepted at the collection site.

Officers from the Reston District Police Station will be present at the site to assist with the collection and disposal of the medications, according to Reston Hospital.

Reston Hospital is one of eight drop-off sites that will be available around Fairfax County for Drug Take Back Day, which is being coordinated by the police department.

Fairfax County also now has permanent drug drop-off boxes at each of its district police stations as well as some pharmacies and medical facilities in the area.

Photo courtesy Reston Hospital Center

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Morning Notes

Marijuana Possession Will Soon Be Legal in Virginia — “The Virginia General Assembly agreed Wednesday to make it legal for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana on July 1, nearly three years sooner than had been approved by the legislature in February.” [The Washington Post]

County Residents Share Thoughts on Police Chief Search — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk hosted a public input session on Tuesday (April 6) as part of the county’s ongoing search for a permanent successor to retired Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. McKay said the board will hold interviews for the position over the next week. [WTOP]

Reston Delegate Holds Post-Session Town Hall — After the Virginia General Assembly adjourned yesterday, Del. Ken Plum and State Sen. Janet Howell are holding a virtual town hall meeting at 7 p.m. today to discuss the 2021 session. Anyone interested in attending can register in advance for the Zoom link and submit questions to [email protected] [Ken Plum]

Metro General Manager Calls Silver Line Phase 2 “A Priority” — Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld declined to commit to a “hard start date” for when the Silver Line’s second phase will open, but he told the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance yesterday “want to get that out as quick as we can” because of the potential impact on ridership and the region’s economic development. [WTOP]

Democratic Candidates for Governor Spar in First Televised Debate — Five candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination to become Virignia’s next governor discussed the pandemic, gun violence, and criminal justice reform during an hour-long event hosted by Virginia State University in Petersburg. [Virginia Mercury]

Reston Company Lands Billions in Defense Contracts — “On the heels of an $830 million U.S. Army contract won in February, Reston-based Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) has landed two more Army contracts worth a combined $4.4 billion, it announced today.” [Virginia Business]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Since Virginia’s new law barring the use of mobile phones while driving went into effect on Jan. 1, local police have written hundreds of citations.

The Fairfax County Police Department has issued “over 415 tickets” related to violations of the hands-free law since the new year.

The Herndon Police Department tells Reston Now that its officers initially issued warnings but did not ticket motorists for violating the law, which prohibits people from holding a handheld communications device while driving a moving vehicle on Virginia highways.

“The first two months of 2021 saw our patrol officers issuing warnings to motorists that were observed in violation of the law,” a Herndon Police spokesperson wrote. “Our goal was to inform as many people as possible of the change in laws.”

However, Herndon Police began issuing citations on March 1, and since then, they have written 43 citations for motorists violating the law.

The state law notes that violations are punishable by a fine of $125 for the first offense and $250 for any subsequent offenses.

The law was technically enacted on July 1, 2020, but was not effective until six months later so that a public messaging campaign could be established and law enforcement could be trained on how to enforce it.

There are few notable expectations to the rule, including emergency vehicle operators performing official duties, drivers who are lawfully parked, and someone using their phone to report an emergency.

While it is illegal to hold a mobile phone while driving, it remains legal to talk on a phone provided it is not in the driver’s hand.

According to Drive Smart Virginia, nearly 15% of all fatal crashes in 2020 involved distracted driving.

Preliminary Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data indicates that Fairfax County had the most fatalities related to distracted driving in the state last year, as well as the most injuries resulting from distracted driving.

Photo via Alexandre Boucher/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Metro Proposes Delaying Funding for Silver Line Phase 2 — Unveiled yesterday (Monday), Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s revised FY 2022 budget proposal confirms that the second phase of the Silver Line will not open this year, though the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has maintained that the project will be ready for Metro to take over by Labor Day. [ABC7-WJLA]

Reston Woman Charged with Assault after Barricade — Fairfax County police arrested a woman on Sunday after she barricaded herself in an apartment on the 2200 block of Stone Wheel Drive in Reston. The hours-long standoff began when officers arrived to investigate a reported domestic assault and serve a warrant to 29-year-old Iesha Walker, who police say threatened to burn the building, shoot officers, and harm a family member and acquaintance who were in the apartment with her. [FCPD]

Reston Tech Company Partners with Baltimore RavensLeidos and the Baltimore Ravens will donate funds to support Oxford House in Silver Spring for the second year of their “Tackling Opioid Addiction” campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the ongoing opioid epidemic. [Baltimore Ravens]

Herndon Student Wins Statewide Art Contest — Sarah Saravanan, a first-grade student at McNair Lower Elementary School in Herndon, won the Virginia Lottery’s Thank A Teacher Art Contest, which invites students to create art that will be showcased on “thank you” notes sent to during National Teacher Appreciation Week on May 3-7. [Patch]

Photo by Ray Copson

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