Police Host Meeting to Discuss Recent Crimes

By ANNETTE HENNESSEY
Falls Church Times Staff

Over  40 Falls Church City and Arlington County residents attended a meeting Monday night with local police to discuss recent crimes in the East Falls Church-Broadmont neighborhoods.  Most recently, a locked minivan was stolen from a resident’s driveway in Broadmont, and two other cars were stolen when a burglar entered Arlington homes through unlocked back doors, stole car keys and other small valuables, and then drove away from the scene.  All of the cars have been recovered, and Arlington police have two men in custody for the home burglaries.  It has been speculated that the minivan was taken to transport stolen materials from a nearby construction site.

Falls Church police presented Broadmont crime rates, and assured residents that even with the latest crimes in the area, the statistics are on par or slightly below other City neighborhoods.  There does not seem to be a pattern to recent crimes, but police urged citizens to consider creating Neighborhood Watch teams.  Tips for forming Neighborhood Watch teams can be found on the City’s web site; the police also presented meeting attendees with the following tips:

  • An unlocked door makes it a “crime of opportunity.”  In a recent rash of vehicle vandalism where small items were taken, only one car out of 13 was locked.
  • Falls Church City police offer free house checks and home security assessments to city residents.
  • The police emergency number for Falls Church City residents is 703.241.5050.  If you call 911, you will be dispatched through Arlington County to Falls Church and lose valuable time.
  • Report all suspicious activity or behavior to the police – permits are required for product sales, like magazines.  Ask to see the permit; and if not available, call the police.

Arlington County Police Detective Sean Bryson shows suspect image from recent carjacking/kidnapping near Benjamin Banneker Park.

Arlington County Police Detective Sean Bryson shows suspect image from recent carjacking/ kidnapping near Benjamin Banneker Park.

Arlington County Police Detective Sean Bryson also attended the meeting and  updated residents on the status of the carjacking investigation.  He explained that since this was such an unusual crime for the area, it has been very difficult to solve.  A composite sketch has been circulated, and DNA evidence is being sent to the state lab for analysis.

During a lengthy Q&A session, residents asked if there could be an increased police presence in the neighborhood and the bike path, whether unused police cars could be parked around the City, and how many police officers patrol the city at any given time.  Since the bike path falls in the Arlington jurisdiction, Falls Church City police said they could talk with Arlington’s District 1 office about patrolling that area, but explained that City has limited police cars and that the vehicles are extremely vulnerable to vandalism when parked on the street as decoys, and that the City only has the resources to deploy 3-5 officers for the entire 2.2 mile city during one time, and do not anticipate hiring more police officers in the near future.

Meeting attendees and police did identify some action items to be taken, which included checking into the status of the lighting survey for streets and the park, contacting Metro about plans to install surveillance cameras at Metro stations, and most importantly, to identify a communications strategy to get information from both area police departments to the communities that they serve in a timely manner.  Police promised to follow up with the organizers of the meeting within the next few weeks.

By
July 28, 2009 

Comments

13 Responses to “Police Host Meeting to Discuss Recent Crimes”

  1. Jim Breiling on July 28th, 2009 9:19 am

    Could the locations of serious crimes (murder, rape, aggravated assault, assault, kipnapping, robbery, breaking and entering) be indicated with the date and time of occurrences on an internet accessible map, e.g., Google Earth? Reason: Are there “hot spots” and prime times for such crimes?

    Could the most recent residences in the community of arrested and convicted offenders be shown similarly? Reason: Are the offenders local folks or are they unwelcome visitors?

  2. TFC on July 28th, 2009 9:22 am

    I was in attendance last night. I appreciated the presence of so many police representatives. This is my take-away from the meeting.
    I was a little confused by the persistent reference to our proximity to EFC Metro as a contributing factor to crime. It almost sounded like hoards of bad folks ride on over on the last Metro train of the evening, break in or do their dirty work and……..wait on the platform for the first train in the morning?? I do think it would be noticed if someone was standing on the platform with arms full of Blackberries, Tom-Toms, cameras, and other loot.

    If they were talking about folks walking to and from Metro as crime victims (as one attendee related his experience) I can understand the Metro theme. However, that appears to be an isolated, although alarming, incident.

    Statistics about crime were presented. An astute attendee posed a question about relationship of crime stats to the two Metro stops here. I would have expected “hot spots” around the Metro stops that would support the constant references to Metro as a factor. Turns out EFC and WFC have different neighborhood characteristics so comparisons are difficult. I found it interesting that the dividing line for crime seems to be either side of Broad St. rather than crime grouped around the Metro stops.
    I give far more credence to the reference to Falls Church’s many easy in-out roads as a factor.
    I think the most important topic was the desire of the attendees to be able to receive timely information about crime happening in their neighborhoods. This is made more difficult by the two jurisdictions involved. There must be a way to use technology to get information to the folks that want it. We can get severe weather and emergency information by signing up for FC Alert so an information distribution model does exist.
    I look forward to a report back to the community about the steps that can be taken to address our concerns.

  3. George Bromley on July 28th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Strictly a guess but I suspect that there is more crime on the south side of Broad Street than on the north. The car next to mine was broken into earlier this year. No vandalism that I know of in 2009, but there were outbreaks in 2007-08, mostly tire slashings along Gundry, South Virginia, and on some of the streets off of South Washington.

  4. stacy hennessey on July 29th, 2009 3:02 pm

    I think we should all be concerned about the incidents of crime in the entire City and not just by neighborhood. My big question is whether the City police ever actually catch anyone. When you really think about this, it can be somewhat upsetting…

  5. Charlie Anderson on July 29th, 2009 7:07 pm

    I am surprised by the statement that it is difficult to catch someone since this was an isolated incident. If it was happening all of the time, how would that make one incident easier to solve?

    Also, if the city can only put 3-5 officers on the street per shift, why do we need 42 officers? How many officers are needed per shift? By my calculations, at 3-5 officers on the street per shift, we only need 20 officers on the entire payroll. Certainly there are officers doing something else other than patrolling.

    Stacy – it seems our police force is quite adept at catching the drunk and urinating in public – remember that when you work in your yard! They also (thankfully) are excellent at enforcing our speed limit. I suspect catching criminals slashing tires and putting up graffiti is quite a different challenge and probably requires a bit of luck in timing.

  6. TFC on July 31st, 2009 12:23 pm

    I see from the weekly crime report in the FCNP that S. Lee and Oak were the most recent neighborhoods hit. What’s up with this? The folks just keep going from one neighborhood to another. This sounds like a pattern to me. I’m wondering if a community meeting like the Town Hall meetings for the budget is in order. It feels like more than a neighborhood problem……it smells like a City wide problem.

  7. George Southern on July 31st, 2009 12:42 pm

    The previous comment mentions the weekly crime report. This is a good opportunity to note that the FALLS CHURCH TIMES is now publishing the weekly report as prepared by the City Police Department. It’s not shown as a major headline, but you’ll find it under the AROUND TOWN listings at the bottom of page 1. PLUS — as of today, we have a new category listing of CRIME at the top of the page. Not the nicest subject to highlight, but one that is of great interest.

  8. TFC on July 31st, 2009 12:49 pm

    How sad, a sign of the times that crime gets it’s own tab.
    Could this be an early idea to link to concerns voiced in the meeting??? I have no idea what’s going on in other neighborhoods until the crime report is published. Your tab and articles/resident contributions could be the opportunity to link all of us so we can see what’s up…..just a thought.
    I have a feeling the bureaucracy and red tape for implementing an “official” notification system of some sort might be waay over the horizon.

  9. stacy hennessey on July 31st, 2009 2:30 pm

    Once again, I would like to point out that the kid who stole my car and GPS is known by the City police, left fingerprints, told other kids he did it, took pictures of himself in action, and yet he was never arrested. I actually saved the message from the “detective” because it was so pathetic. Why would he stop commtting these crimes when he knows he can get away with it?!

  10. TFC on July 31st, 2009 3:17 pm

    Stacy, why were the police unable to charge the person? It’s very distressing.

  11. Andy Rankin on July 31st, 2009 5:19 pm

    Stacy – wow! I’d love to hear the City’s side of the story. If you have your hands on any of this evidence I wonder if you could bring a civil suit against him? Did you get your GPS back?

  12. stacy hennessey on August 3rd, 2009 9:15 pm

    They said that he didn’t come forward and has subsequently graduated (with my daughter), so they couldn’t get information from him or the kids he had told. Nick actually made a media inquiry…but nothing happened.
    The GPS was sold right away(heard from neighborhood kids)

    I would love to hear what the police have to say as well….

    It is very distressing on numerous levels.

  13. TFC on August 5th, 2009 5:39 pm

    If anyone hears about a follow up meeting to discuss the issues raised at the meeting July 27…would you be so kind as to post it here?

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