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Votes

Federal Grant Aids City Police

Moran cites pressures of being in "target area."

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-8) presented the Alexandria Police Department with three quarters of a million dollars to purchase equipment and enhance technology.

Moran secured the funds as part of the FY2004 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Bill. “This federal grant money is possible because of the work we have been able to do with this police department from the chief to the rank and file,” Moran said at a press conference at police headquarters on Monday. “Alexandria has faced a good deal of budgetary pressure since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 and this is part of my effort to help ease some of that pressure. Alexandria is part of what we consider to be a ground zero target area because many federal facilities are located here and there are many federal employees. Most of all, there is the federal courthouse, right next to the police department’s headquarters. That courthouse is where many terror suspects may be tried. This has placed an incredible burden on our local law enforcement agencies.

“The City Council has done what it can to increase funding for the department and, under the ruberick of homeland security; we have obtained around $12 million for Alexandria. This is not sufficient and that is why we are presenting the department with this funding. And we will continue to do more as we can. This department is one of the best police departments anywhere, with the best chief in the region and maybe even in the country. We will continue to support their efforts to keep all Alexandrians safe and secure,” Moran said.

The department’s officers decided how to spend the new funds. “Congressman Moran told us that he wanted us to spend this money to keep Alexandrians safe and this is the list of equipment that the officers came up with,” said police chief Charles E. Samarra. “We are very grateful for the support.”

The funds will be used to purchase nine fully equipped police cruisers, 40 mobile computers for use by officers while in their vehicles or on calls and equipment to enhance digital photographs taken from surveillance cameras. “We have all seen the quality of some of the pictures we get from security cameras,” said deputy chief David Baker. “This new equipment will allow us to enhance these images and make them more useful in investigating crimes and identifying suspects.”

THE DEPARTMENT WILL also purchase a bait car. “This car will be equipped with alarms and cameras and will be placed in different locations around the city to help us catch people who might want to steal it,” Baker said. “Arlington has one and it has been very useful to them.”

While car theft has declined continuously since 1995, it remains a significant criminal activity in the city. In 1995 1,183 cars were stolen. Last year, only 640 cars were stolen.

“Most stolen cars are found,” said Amy Bertsch, a spokesperson for the department.

Vice mayor Redella S. “Del” Pepper thanked Moran on behalf of the City Council. “We are indeed at ground zero and this funding will help to purchase the equipment that we need to remain secure,” she said.