Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Now in Effect — “A mandate that most of Virginia’s state workers will have to be vaccinated or agree to regular COVID-19 testing is taking effect. Gov. Ralph Northam’s order kicks in Wednesday and will apply to more than 120,000 executive branch employees.” [Associated Press/WTOP]
Reston Police Community Meeting Tonight — “Join the @FairfaxCountyPD Reston District Station for a Community Information Forum on Thursday, Sept. 2, 7 p.m. The virtual meeting will cover statistics, trends, cases from the previous month, and discuss upcoming events.” [Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Twitter]
Lake Anne Elementary Postpones Back-to-School Night — “Many families have asked for a virtual Back to School Night because people are hesitant to be around large crowds. In response to that request, we will be changing our Back to School Night to a virtual format on Tuesday, September 14, 2021…More details will follow in next week’s News You Choose.” [FCPS]
Park Authority to Honor Frying Pan Volunteers — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board will give Ronnie Billodeaux, Ed Robichaud, and Steve Williams the 2021 Harold L. Strickland Partnership and Collaboration Award, which recognizes teamwork in bringing state-of-the-art facilities to parks. The three volunteer wagon ride drivers worked over the winter to repair and expand picnic facilities at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon. [FCPA]
Photo by Ed Schudel/Twitter
Herndon Fire Causes $6K in Damages — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units responded to a passerby’s report of a building fire in the 2400 block of Centreville Road around 7:22 a.m. yesterday (Monday). Investigators determined that the fire, which was seen on a countertop, was caused by an electrical event involving a power strip. There were no reported injuries, but the damage was estimated to be $6,000. [Patch]
Police Seek Assistance in Finding Great Falls Burglary Suspects — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston Station is seeking to identify two men who reportedly caused more than $20,000 in damage to a house in the 800 block of Hortense Place in Great Falls on June 12. Detectives have not yet determined if the incident is related to incidents involving damage to two homes in the same block on July 12. [Patch]
Virginia to Use COVID-19 Relief Funds for School Ventilation — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wants to allocate $250 million of the state’s federal coronavirus relief money to projects that will improve air quality in public schools. In a statement Monday, the Democratic governor said the state funding would be matched with another $250 million in local funds for an investment that would allow for the completion of nearly all Virginia school divisions’ currently planned projects.” [Associated Press/WTOP]
Reston Hospital Completes First Spinal Implant Using AI and Augmented Reality — “Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR), top surgeons at Virginia Spine Institute deliver personalized spinal implants to a 17 year old patient. Spine Surgeons Dr. Ehsan Jazini and Dr. Christopher Good performed the procedure at Reston Hospital on Monday, July 26, 2021.” [Virginia Spine Institute]
Reminder: Weigh In On Future of Reston Parking — “Help us determine the future of parking in Tysons and Reston. We want to hear from residents, commuters, employees and patrons about how you use parking in these areas. Take our managed parking survey, open now through July 31.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
New Laws Take Effect in Virginia — A host of new laws passed by the General Assembly take effect today (Thursday), including the legalization of simple marijuana possession, the abolition of the death penalty, and a requirement that drivers change lanes when passing bicyclists. The fine for littering is now $500, up from $250, and it is now illegal to intentionally release a balloon outside. [Patch]
Police Community Forum Tonight — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station will hold a virtual community information forum at 7 p.m. today that will include discussion of trends, upcoming events, and officer and case highlights from the past month. Send questions to [email protected] [RA/Twitter]
Republican Challenger to Ken Plum Will Be on Ballot — Veteran Matt Lang will officially appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot as the Republican candidate for the 36th House District, which includes Reston and is currently represented by Del. Ken Plum. The State Board of Elections approved his candidacy upon appeal yesterday (Wednesday) after his application was initially blocked by a late filing certification. [Virginia Public Access Project]
Changes to Permitted Agritourism Activities Approved — “Fairfax County supervisors, despite objections from some local residents and environmental groups, on June 22 approved new ‘agritourism’ rules that will allow certain by-right commercial operations in agricultural settings…Allowable activities include farm tours, harvest-your-own activities, seasonal festivals and attractions, events, hiking, horseback riding and other activities, historical and cultural endeavors.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Fairfax County police are working to address recent crimes in the Reston District.
Reston District Station Captain Thea Pirnat and several officers discussed a number of questions and concerns during a virtual community forum on Tuesday.
The discussion revolved around concerns stemming from recent crimes including three homicides within the district and burglaries at the Hunters Woods Village Center last week. The officers also discussed the general police response to these crimes as well as investigative efforts for reports of shots fired.
Pirnat said the four burglarized businesses at the Hunters Woods Village Center last week were a series of “smash and grabs.” She said a stolen vehicle was used in the burglaries to try to steal cash. It is an ongoing investigation.
“That is not believed to be related to the homicides,” Pirnat said.
“We do actually have some really good investigative leads. They actually targeted Fairfax city first, and then later were involved in a pursuit down in Loudon.”
She added there is a trend in the region and other jurisdictions where a vehicle is stolen and used in thefts. Establishments with ATMs are targeted.
Lieutenant Marisa Kuhar, an assistant commander of FCPD’s Major Crimes Bureau, said police believe there is currently no connection between the three homicide victims.
She added police believe the first two homicide victims were targeted and that they are “leaning that way” for the third as well based on the number of rounds fired. Kuhar said they would explore the possibility of potential connections to gangs as a part of their investigation.
Pirnat shared data about calls for service about gunshots. The data show calls in the Reston District have increased over the last three years with 130 in 2018, 157 in 2019 and 185 in 2020. However, she clarified these calls relate to a caller’s belief they heard a gunshot and are not necessarily confirmed cases a firearm was fired.
She further outlined the department’s efforts to investigate calls about gunshots.
According to Pirnat, cases in which shots are heard are written and reports are sent to the department’s criminal investigative section (CIS) for information purposes. If shell casings or damage is found, it is written as “unlawful discharge” and actively investigated by CIS.
All cases are tracked to include firearm caliber to help identify potential trends. Additionally, all shootings with sustained damage require a consult with a CIS detective. If a house is damaged, then it’s a call-out for a detective.
Finally, if a person is shot or targeted, a consult with Major Crimes must take place.
She also said police presence has increased in and around the Hunters Woods area to increase visibility and deter potential crime. That includes the addition of a police cruiser last month that is driving through the area with a non-flashing light bar.
“We’re trying to be visible. We want to detect and deter crime,” Pirnat said. “We want people to get used to seeing us and trust us, and we’re trying to take a more graceful approach, if you will, and have these conversations.”
The increased presence also includes splitting the bike patrol team into two units and increasing the presence of the neighborhood patrol unit officers.
Sergeant Joe Woloszyn, the unit patrol supervisor in Reston, added the bike team is riding the bikes in addition to patrolling the area and walkways on foot. He said that the walkways seem safe to him during the daytime, but added that calls for suspicious people typically come out during the darker hours.
Woloszyn said they “see a lot of” calls about marijuana being smoked on the trails. Second Lieutenant Anthony Stancampiano, a patrol supervisor in Reston, clarified that the police will still respond to calls about marijuana, but since it was decriminalized in Virginia “it really does limit” the ability for officers to enforce other than asking individual for their ID and charging them with a summons to court.
Photo via the Fairfax County Government website
The Reston District Station police force is open to working alongside the community to establish trust and transparency.
That is the message that Reston District Station Commanders Captain Thea Pirnat and Lieutenant Marc Mitchell discussed with residents during a virtual Hunter Mill Town Hall hosted by Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn on Tuesday.
“We recognize the fact that police work is a changing profession,” Pirnat said. “It’s been evolving for a long time; we will continue to evolve. There’s always room for growth and improvement.”
Pirnat and Mitchell said that the Fairfax County Police Department’s policies and its work for the community, specifically as it relates to the Reston District Station and the Reston community.
Pirnat described the trends the station has tracked in crimes over the last two years and said the county “is one of the safest communities in the entire nation.” She added the crime rate is three times below the national average and the area saw a “down tick” in most crime over the last year.
She shared that a number of statistics fluctuated from 2019 to 2020, with calls to the police dropping. Overall, Pirnat said the number of calls for criminal acts have decreased and traffic enforcement went down as well as DWI fatalities in the Reston District Station.
Pirnat provided statistics to emphasize the decrease in some calls from 2019 to 2020. Robberies dropped from 344 to 314 and burglaries dropped from 635 to 619.
While some crime reports dropped, there was a noticeable increase in weapon calls and motor vehicle thefts. Weapon calls increased from 455 to 518 and motor vehicle thefts increased from 863 to 1,273. Service calls also increased as mental health case calls increased from 4,715 to 5,000 from 2019 to 2020.
Though some numbers spiked, Pirnat said she believes “Reston maintained a very safe atmosphere.”
She added the department has taken measures to address community concerns, particularly in the wake of homicides and reported gunshots. One highlight she pointed to was the establishment of the Reston Engagement and Safety Enforcement Team (RESET).
Pirnat described RESET as an assortment of officers focused on “a more blended response to what was going on, to engage with community members, to communicate better, build the rapport, build the trust, in addition to increasing visibility and suppressing potential crime.”
RESET is currently focused on south Reston, and Pirnat said the team has already removed numerous guns off the streets.
In reference to two homicides, Pirnat commended the department’s work in closing the case in the shooting of Samuel Onyeuka, 20, within 96 hours last week. She also mentioned the homicide case from September in which Iris Ponce Garcia, 19, of Reston was shot and killed in the area of Colts Neck Road and Glade Drive. Pirnat said the case is still active.
“It has not gone cold. There are active leads,” Pirnat said. “The Major Crimes Bureau is very much on top of several new leads right now that they believe is going to result in closure in the near future. I will certainly stay on top of that and keep our community informed, as well will our Major Crimes Bureau.”
Pirnat and Mitchell both stated there is always work to be done for the future of the police force.
“As your police department, we shouldn’t be operating in a manner in which you want to know, ‘ how do you investigate an accident,’ ‘what is your use of force policy when it’s reviewed, or if there’s a complaint,’ or ‘what’s the proper response for this type of police investigation,'” Mitchell said.
“We want to be transparent, we want to be deliberate and we want to be clear.”
Mitchell and Pirnat said the department has launched initiatives to engage with the community and be transparent. Among those was the introduction of a dashboard that houses data including arrests, citations, warnings and police department training and policies.
Pirnat also said body-worn cameras had been part of conversations prior to a pilot program in the county and the “expedited” process to issue the cameras to officers in 2020.
The officers also said the department will continue to build on the work the county has taken to previously address concerns. Those efforts include bringing in the Police Executive Research Forum in 2015 to review use of force policies and practices, and rewriting policies and updating force policy to focus on the sanctity of life.
Photo via the Fairfax County Government website
This holiday season, Fairfax County Police Department’s Victim Services is raising donations for children of victims involved in violent crimes.
Victim Services at FCPD supports victims’ families in many ways, according to Supervisor of Hunter Mill District Walter Alcorn. This holiday season, the division will be working to eliminate some of the financial hardship for some families.
“The Fairfax County Police Department’s Victim Services Division provides critical services to child victims and witnesses of domestic and sexual violence,” Alcorn wrote in a recent newsletter.” Many of these children will not get to celebrate holidays this year due to the financial burden that comes with being a victim of crime.”
FCPD is accepting gift cards from stores for children of all ages, Alcorn says, from stores including:
- TJ Maxx
- Local restaurants
- Other clothing stores
Gift cards can be dropped off at the Reston District Police Station (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) or mailed to the station addressed as:
C/O Victim Services/ PFC Horita
Reston District Police Station
1801 Cameron Glen Drive
Reston, VA 20190
For more information about FCPD’s Victim Services, visit its website.
Photo via the Fairfax County Government website
Neighborhood safety dominated a virtual town hall by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn last night.
The town hall was called to discuss the ways in which the Fairfax County Police Department is acting to keep the Hunters Woods neighborhood safe in the wake of an active homicide investigation, as well as a growing concern from the community regarding the increase in gunshot reports around Reston and the Hunters Woods neighborhood.
FCPD Capt. Thea Pirnat discussed that while there is an increased number of gunshot reports in the area, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are increased gunshots — it could mean that the community is doing a better job reporting data. However, the Reston District Police Department is still working to increase police visibility in the neighborhood to deter crime.
The department is also increasing patrols in the neighborhood through a crime suppression team, according to Lt. Marc Mitchell. The department has also been sending out bike patrols as an increased presence to help build trust and rapport with the community members.
2nd Lt. Erin Weeks discussed the current status of the homicide investigation, urging the community to come forward with tips or reports to help guide the active investigation. Weeks said that the detectives are actively following up on ledes and that she is “confident that we are going to solve this case.”
Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead near a walking trail in the summer of 2019 near a wooded area between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court. Mejia was found with trauma to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.
PFC Katy Defoe, the Crime Prevention Officer at the Reston District Station, encouraged community members to pay more attention to their surroundings as they go about their daily lives so they can act as good witnesses if necessary.
Defoe also presented a series of contacts organized with the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition that community members can keep in mind in emergent or non-emergent situations, including:
- Police non-emergency line: 703-691-2131
- Embry Rucker Center Outreach Worker for unsheltered medical attention: 571-323-1399
- Mental health crisis assistance: 703-573-5679
- Fairfax Detoxification Center: 703-502-7000
PFC Brandi Horita, Reston District Station’s Community Liason Officer, also discussed cityprotect.com and the Fairfax County Crime Solvers program as two resources for community members to watch police activity and to promote awareness and crime prevention strategies.
Another virtual town hall will be taking place on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. with more details to come.
Screenshot from the Hunters Woods Town Hall/YouTube
A man was robbed by several suspects as he walked home along Monaghan Drive on Wednesday, August 7.
Police reported that the suspects covered the victim’s face and stole cash, a visa, passport and cell phone.
The incident happened on the 2100 block of Monaghan Drive at around 9:30 p.m. No injuries were reported.
In a separate incident, someone stole jewelry and a safe from a home on the 2300 block of Duke of Bedford Court in Thursday, August 8.
The Fairfax County Police Department is investigating both incidents.
FCPD’s Reston District Station also reported the following minor incidents in recent days:
2500 block of Centreville Road, beer from business
2300 block of Colts Brook Drive, jewelry from residence
2100 block of Centreville Road, shoes and backpacks from business
9900 block of Colvin Run Road, credit cards from vehicle
2300 block of Hunters Woods Plaza, beer from business
1900 block of Isaac Newton Square, wallet from location
9000 block of Jeffery Road, mail from residence
11500 block of Leesburg Pike, wallet from location
13100 block of Parcher Avenue, cash from business
12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, electronic devices from business
In another case, a woman is suspected of trespassing in a home on the 13400 block of Parcher Drive.
Police said the woman, who came inside the garage, was looking for a woman who she believed lived at the house.
She was described as a white female with blonde hair and was wearing a white shirt and blue pants. Police said she was last seen running westbound on Parcher Avenue.
The incident happened on Thursday, August 8 at 10:52 a.m.
Photo via FCPD
The Fairfax County Police Department has released new details about a domestic situation that prompted the temporary closure of Lake Newport Road on Friday.
Police said that Carl Robinson, 52, of Reston, refused to leave a home on the 11700 block of Summerchase Circle at around 8:50 a.m. that day.
Robinson, who has multiple warrants from a previous incident, retreated to his home and “refused to exit” after an officer tried to approach him, police said.
The incident prompted local police to close a portion of the road.
Officers from FCPD’s special operations division arrested Robinson on two counts of assault and a violation of a protection order.
FCPD’s Reston District Station also reported the following incident in recent days:
1700 block of Business Center Drive, purse from vehicle
1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, cell phone from location
2400 block of Centreville Road, cell phone from business
2400 block of Centreville Road, cell phone from location
2200 block of Chamblee Place, backpack from vehicle
2500 block of Farmcrest Drive, bicycle from vehicle
10100 block of Georgetown Pike, cash from business
12100 block of Holly Knoll Circle, property from residence
1400 block of Hunter View Farms, firearm from vehicle
2100 block of Monaghan Drive, cash and property from vehicle
11600 block of Plaza America Drive, cell phone from location
2100 block of Seaman Court, tires from vehicle
12500 block of Sunrise Valley Drive, tools from construction site
400 block of Walker Road, shoes from business
1600 block of Wiehle Avenue, property from location
1800 block of Wiehle Avenue, merchandise from business
In a separate incident, a burglary was reported in a home on the 11900 block of Holly Spring Drive on Tuesday, June 11.
An alarm sounded around 3:15 a.m., prompting the suspect to run away.
Photo via FCPD
Installing carseats for babies and children can be a tough task, so the Fairfax County Police Department is hosting a few free sessions in Reston to offer some help.
Trained officers will review car seat instructions and car owner’s manual to insure car seats are being used safely. The first session is tomorrow (April 18) from 5-8 p.m. at the Reston District Station (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). Can’t make it tomorrow? Other sessions are set for May 15, June 13, July 11, Aug. 22, Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.
Here’s more from FCPD:
Installing car seats for babies and children can be difficult, but we all want our children to travel safely. That’s why police district stations across the county host free Car Seat Safety and Install events throughout the year! You will learn how you can ensure your car seat is properly installed to keep your child as safe as possible. In preparation for your appointment, you should install the seat in your vehicle using the instructions that came with the car seat.
Events are by appointment only. Attendees should call 703-478-0904 to schedule an appointment.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon
Fairfax County police stations will collect unused or expired medications during its “Operation Medicine Cabinet Cleanout” on Saturday (Oct. 27). Residents can drop off medicine like pills or liquids between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at any of the county’s eight district police stations.
The take-back program offers residents a safe method for disposing of prescriptions drugs in a way that is closely monitored by state, local and federal government agencies, according to FCPD.
The initiative is made possible with partnerships with county departments like police, health, neighborhood and community services, public works, environmental services, and the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.
Disposal is free and confidential. No pressurized canisters and needles can be disposed of, however.
The drop-off site for Reston is 1801 Cameron Glen Drive.
Photo via FCPD
Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is on the radar of local police at the Reston District Station, particularly as the area becomes more urbanized.
In response to an increase in accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians during the summer, local police officers launched a public safety campaign. Although the campaign was focused on educating the public instead of enforcing violations, local police offered tips about safety, including obeying traffic signals and using traffic laws, to more than 1,000 residents.
The public safety campaign ran from June 4 through the end of the summer following the death of a 71-year-old pedestrian who was hit by a car in May. Police officers met with hundreds of residents to promote pedestrian safety and distribute literature in order to reduce accidents.
Accidents between pedestrians and cars have become more frequent, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
FCPD’s first priority was areas where pedestrian and car accidents have happened in the past. Other areas that were targeted have heavy traffic and pedestrian crosswalks, Sgt. Aaron Pfeiff told Reston Now.
“The public was very appreciative of the officer’s efforts and it was noticed that more pedestrians and bicyclist were obeying traffic signals and using crosswalks,” Pfeiff said.
Pfeiff identified the following intersections where officers focused their efforts:
- Georgetown Pike/Walker Rd
- Bluemont Way/Library St
- Reston Pkwy/New Dominion Dr
- Sunset Hills Rd/Michael Faraday Dr
- Sunset Hills Rd/Isaac Newton Dr
- Sunset Hills Rd/Whiele Ave
- Parcher Ave/Centreville Rd
- Coppermine Rd/Thomas Jefferson Dr
- Hunter Mill Rd/Hunter Station
- Sunrise Valley Dr/Cross School Rd
Photo via FCPD
A police officer who last worked in the Reston District Station and was charged in connection with the death of his six-month-old daughter was fired on Friday (Sept. 28).
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. fired Jason Colley, 38, following his arrest in Maryland in connection with the baby’s death, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
Colley, of Monrovia, Md., turned himself in after an indictment was signed in late August by a Maryland judge. He was charged with child abuse in the first degree resulting in death, child abuse in the first degree resulting in severe physical injury and felony assault in the first degree. The baby died on in October last year.
Roessler Jr. called the charges against Colley “abhorrent.” No other information was released by the police department about the incident.
Colley was relieved of all law enforcement powers on April 20 when Fairfax County police learned he was a suspect in the care.
In a separate incident, a man was robbed on Friday while walking near Hunters Woods Shopping Center at around 1:30 p.m. The suspect assaulted the victim and stole personal items from him when he said he did not have any money. Police described the suspect as a white male approximately 5’11” – 6’2″ and about 150 to 180 pounds.
Sometime between Sept. 18 and 26, a man was found sleeping inside a vacant house on the 12000 block of Kinsley Place. The owner of the house discovered a man in his 20s who appeared to be sleeping inside the home as it underwent repairs, according to police.
FCPD also reported the following incidents in recent days:
1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, wallet from location
1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, wallet from location
2300 block of Hunters Woods Plaza, liquor from business
2300 block of Hunters Woods Plaza, liquor from business
2500 block of John Eppes Road, steering wheel and airbags from vehicle
1400 block of North Point Village Center, cash from business
12900 block of Park Crescent Circle, airbag from vehicle
2000 block of Royal Fern Court, wallet from location
South Lakes Drive/Pinecrest Road, wallet from vehicle
1800 block of Town Center Parkway, ring from location
13500 block of Virginia Randolph Avenue, airbag from vehicle
Photo via FCPD
Police officers in Reston will no longer be equipped with body-worn cameras, as the pilot program ends in three Fairfax County police stations.
The program began in mid-February after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the pilot program in November last year. Three stations – Mason, Mount Vernon and Reston – participated in the program.
Reston was added to the program in March because extra equipment was available. Police department officers also said Reston’s location near several high-rise buildings and the Silver Line provided unique data from patrol units.
A research team at American University will study the program’s effectiveness and interview trained officers and community members to determine the effect the equipment on police activity and perception of police legitimacy in the community.
The team will also analyze data about the number and type of complaints filed against officers during the time the pilot program was in effect.
A report is expected in early 2019. The program cost roughly $684,000 in fiscal year 2018.
(Updated at 10:25 a.m. to include information about Cherry’s previous arrest) Carlos Cherry, 38, was arrested and charged with shooting a missile at an occupied building on Wednesday.
Members of a neighborhood patrol unit saw Cherry, who has a pending warrant for failing to appear in court for a felony offense, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
When they approached him, he stood up and pointed a firearm at the Reston District Station (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). The move was followed by three to four ‘pops,’ police said.
Cherry was taken into custody. The weapon was “a realistic looking BB gun,” according to police.
On March 22, Cherry was arrested after police said he hit a police officer with his fist, police said. He was arrested and charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, brandishing a firearm and intoxication in public.
Information about the most recent incident was released late Thursday.
Photo via FCPD