The event venue has changed from 311 Union Street to APD headquarters on Wheeler Avenue.
Alexandria Police Department Deputy Police Chief Reyes has agreed to an open forum question and answer session. The event will take place at APD Headquarters on Wheeler Avenue on September 16, 2015 10:00 -11:00 a.m. Some of the questions that are already being proposed for discussion are:
- Uniformed and civilian staffing numbers over the past ten years
- Enforcement of bicycle laws
- How it is to police in a sanctuary city
If you would like other questions answered please feel free to send them to Old Town Post at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also ask spontaneous questions on the day of the event.
The following questions have been put together by, Hal Hardaway, the organizer of this event:
Police Department Staffing
Discussion: Indicators are that staffing, both uniformed and civilian, are down from what
I remember when moving here in 2000. For example, there used to by three officers
at the intersection of King and Union, particularly on weekends. I’d mumble to myself
“why am I paying for three officers when one would do?” None there are none on a
Friday or Saturday evening, when that intersection is chaos and a hazard to public safety.
When there were police bicycle patrols, they’d stop by my house in pairs. Now they’ve
gone away. I was briefed that civilian Police Department staffing is down precipitously,
as I recall. And by staffing I mean numbers of funded positions (in the Navy, we called
them billets; I don’t know what municipal governments call them), not actual numbers
of people onboard.
1) What is civilian Police Department staffing today, five years ago and ten years ago?
2) What is uniformed Police Department staffing, in each sector, today, five years ago
and ten years ago?
Strategic Response System (SRS)
Discussion: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I also call this “data-driven” policing. Am
certainly no expert on policing, but this is the way I’d run a railroad, or a company
or a police department, to optimize my resources. But I don’t understand the nexus
between SRS and resource programming. And an officer told me that the reason
I’m not seeing officers on King Street much anymore is because they’re being deployed
to areas driven by the current crime data.
Question: Is there a system in SRS and any kind of metric that captures the effect of
not having visible police presence in high density areas, e.g., King Street on a Friday
or Saturday night?
Discussion: In December 2013 my car was stolen on the unit block of Wolfe Street.
In February 2015 it was vandalized past driveability in a theft attempt directly across
the street from my house on the 300 block of South Union Street. According to Alexandria
Police Department data, five cars were stolen or damaged beyond driveability (including two
of my Waterford Place neighbors) in a four week period spanning February-
March 2015 on that same block. On the most recent incident, I called to offer my house
as a platform for a clandestine surveillance camera. It took an inordinate amount of time
for my call to be returned, and when it was it was from an obviously junior, but dedicated,
uniformed officer on beat. (See Police Department Staffing above.) After another spell,
my question was answered that the Police Department does not have cameras capable
in low light environments.
Question: Why doesn’t the Police Department technical surveillance toolkit contain
low light/night vision cameras? Is it a budget issue? I don’t want to know what’s in the kit,
but am practically shocked to learn it doesn’t include this capability. I can buy a low level light camera
from Harbor Freight today for $35 and up.
Discussion: The Police Department is aware of my 911 call early morning 24th June 2015, about
a mentally disturbed man threatening the President. I made two 911 calls, and my friend made
a third given what she heard him utter was even more threatening than what I heard. You also
know I had to ask the 911 dispatcher several times to speak into the microphone so I could
hear him. I apparently mistakenly assumed that a 911 call automatically generated a police
response, but have been told it does not. Everyone I’ve told of this is amazed an officer is not
automatically dispatched. My friend who made the third call did request an
officer be dispatched. But when she did, the 911 dispatcher said she could not send an officer
unless given a specific, numbered address. My friend told the dispatcher it was the Starbucks
at the intersection of King and Union, as she was frantically looking for a street number on
Starbucks. Apparently the dispatcher wasn’t very cooperative. Someone has told me that the
Alexandria Police Department does not run 911.
1) Who runs 911?
2) Is it policy that an officer not be dispatched on a 911 call unless the
caller so requests?
3) If that is policy, can the 911 dispatcher be required to say, “If you desire an
officer to respond, please say so?
Bicycles on Union Street
Discussion: Big problem for my 6.5 years actually on South Union Street (311 South Union Street),
and for my 10+ years living within 100 feet of South Union Street (106 Waterford Place).
Not only do they blatantly run stop signs, they don’t look and are defiant of
automobiles. I’ve even been cursed at, and shot the bird, as a pedestrian. I’ve been almost
T-boned by bicycles in my car. Several years ago there was an effort by officers in patrol
cars to stop bicyclists as they blew through the intersection of King and Union Streets. That ended,
as I heard that “the judge” threw out the tickets. Three days ago I approached a uniformed
officer in a cruiser at the intersection of South Union and Duke Streets, on my bicycle.
As I spoke with him, bicyclists were blowing through that intersection, so I brought it up.
He responded about the effort several years ago of officers writing tickets and the tickets
being thrown out by the judge. He confirmed that bicycles are vehicles, and they are breaking
the law. He said the police officers who wrote tickets were embarrassed by it all.
Last summer or fall a Motor Patrol Officer was showing up on Union Street and giving, at
least, warnings to offending bicycles. That has ceased.
1) Why have the Motor Patrols ceased?
2) Is there any intent to start enforcing the law on Union Street?
3) Were police officers embarrassed from being conscientious and having
the judge dismiss the tickets?
4) What is the name and title of this particular judge, and who is his boss?
Discussion: I’m not personally opposed to motorcoaches in Alexandria, but
two days ago was sitting outside at Starbucks at 0700 and there were two buses
idling when I arrived at the intersection of King and Union Streets. They departed
40 minutes later, after having idled the whole time. Setting directly behind them
at the east terminus of King Street was a police cruiser. I would’ve gone to the drivers
and told them of the rules, and then to the police officer if the drivers gave me any
gruff, but didn’t really know the ordinances, so did nothing. But thanks to Yon
Lambert, I now know that Virginia State Code $46.2-1224.1 prohibits idling
longer than 15 minutes and imposes a fine.
There’s a parallel City of Alexandria ordinance that I’m digging out now. Also, I’m
told second-hand that police officers say they can’t enforce the bus idling because
it’s interstate commerce.
1) Are Alexandria Police Officers trained on these ordinances?
2) Will they be enforcing them?
3) Is the interstate commerce point a valid one? (It should not be.)
Discussion: I’m aware from the newspapers of the problems at Chatham Square.
I’m told that HOA has hired private security because of the non-responsiveness
of the Police Department.
Question: I hope this is not true, but is it?
Discussion: I’m told there is crime on private property (boats) at city docks.
But there’s apparently confusion on jurisdictional authority on the water
(going back to the 18th century), so the Alexandria Police Department has
a difficult time enforcing it.
1) Is this true?
2) If so, what can be done to correct it?
Having said all that, I’ve had outstanding experiences with the Alexandria
Police Department. In 2013, I had three encounters. When my car was stolen,
when an intruder entered my house about 0400 on a Sunday morning, and when
I found my dear friend and neighbor dead on Christmas Day. In every case,
police response was rapid, professional, courteous and understanding.
My final and, perhaps, most important question: What can we citizens do to
help the Police Department?