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Police Give Talk On Public Safety

When it comes to public safety, the Sully District is in good hands — and things are only going to get better. That was the message delivered Monday night by Maj. Thomas Ryan and Capt. Bill Gulsby.

Ryan is the commander of the Fair Oaks, Sully and Reston regions, plus Animal Services, and Gulsby is in charge of the Sully District Police Station. Both addressed the quarterly meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA).

"Capt. Gulsby picked the officers here at the Sully District Station, and you're fortunate to have [them]," said Ryan. "They're an outstanding, very dedicated group — top-of-the-line."

Ryan recently moved to Centreville, and Gulsby's doing likewise. He told the audience, "I'm honored to be a citizen of this district, as well as the captain of your police station."

Ryan said the officers here do community policing — meaning that officers are held accountable for the area they police. The area patrolled by the Sully District Station is geographically divided into four Police Service Areas (PSA), and Ryan said the five-year plan is to have officers assigned to every PSA throughout the county.

Gulsby said Sully's PSAs are each monitored by a lieutenant and a sergeant, with eight to 12 officers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Besides familiarizing residents with their local police officers, he said, operating this way "gives the officers knowledge about what's happening here, as well as historical knowledge of the area [they cover]."

ACCORDING TO RYAN, "Financial crime is exploding" in Sully, in terms of the volume of cases coming across police desks. Credit-card fraud, plus property and identity crimes are also on the rise here, he said. As a result, police will be increasing the staff of the Criminal Investigations Section because, said Ryan, "Sully is an extremely busy station."

Also being considered are the addition of more members to the bike patrol, as well as another school resource officer to Westfield High. Said Ryan: "We're looking at [whether] one school resource officer will be sufficient at Westfield High School when it has 3,100 students."

Noting the new, public safety communications center, emergency management center and forensic facility planned for construction off West Ox Road, he said what great assets they'll be to the county.

But that's not all that's planned. "We also hope to target sexual offenders," said Ryan. "Dedicated officers would be on the Internet to try to catch sexual offenders who prey on our children." And eventually, through P'Caso — a program posting sexual predators' addresses online — Ryan hopes to also be able to deploy officers to neighborhoods where these felons live.

Meanwhile, said Gulsby, police are working hard to catch the peeper who's been brazenly exposing himself to local residents. He said there have been "over two dozen" incidents in the Sully District, mainly in Centreville.

"I come to work and check every morning to see if we have any new exposure cases," he said. "We came close to catching him, recently. We were in foot pursuit of him, but lost the track. But he's the gentleman I go to bed thinking about at night and hope that we catch him."

Otherwise, said Gulsby, residents' main complaint is traffic congestion, followed by thefts from automobiles and vandalisms. And he advised citizens with questions to call the station's crime-prevention officer, Mary Hulse, at 703-814-7000, because "she can find information and answers for you."

SULLY STATION RESIDENT Gil Kesser asked how police approach graffiti, and Gulsby said police photograph it and have the property owner remove it quickly. "The neighborhood patrol unit has a gang coordinator, and the gang unit makes an analysis of it," he explained. "The recent one behind Safeway [at the Fairfax Towne Center] was not gang-related. But we have zero tolerance for it and absolutely want any graffiti reported."

Centreville's Terry Spence asked about gang activity here, and Gulsby said there were two recent incidents, but both were dealt with immediately.

"Over the summer, in Bull Run Park, we called in the gang unit and it responded quickly," he said. "I've had no reason to get nervous about gangs working in the area; let's knock on wood and count our blessings. But we're not blind to it, and we keep officers educated and up-to-date about it."

Regarding dangerous intersections, Gulsby said Westfields Boulevard and Route 28 has the most accidents, followed by I-66 and Route 28 north. He also advised people with concerns about particular intersections to call Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) "who can call VDOT about them."