Captain Mike Kline has been in charge of the Mount Vernon Police District for the past few weeks, but as they’ve done in the past, Mount Vernon made it official with a Change of Command ceremony last week. It gave politicians and citizens alike a chance to recognize the work of Major Larry Moser, Lt. Mike Dittmer and others.
There to witness the special occasion were former commanders Major Shawn Barrett, Lt. Colonel Sellers and Major Michael Lomonaco. Major Tyrone Morrow was not present.
District supervisors Gerry Hyland and Dana Kaufmann spoke first.
“This is a special day — a sad day to have to say good-bye to a special person who has meant so much to us. But we are blessed to have people of such caliber serve here. I’ve been here 18 years and when I look at how we’ve addressed problems, we are light years from where we were,” Hyland said.
He spoke about how he and Kaufmann were joined at the hip, even more so in that the Mount Vernon District Station serves both sides of Route 1.
Kaufmann said, “These are the men who protect my home, my son’s school and my Giant. Thanks to the hard work of the officers, men and women want to come here to work. The CAC [Community Advisory Committee] is the best embodiment of a community — they are here when the officers have to be here. It is a great honor to be here and recognize the men — and someday women — who command the station.”
Hyland spoke about how he and Moser were forced together with Hurricane Isabel and other issues.
“I have never worked with anybody like that. He and John J. Caussin, Jr. [Battalion Chief recently promoted to Deputy Chief for Support Services] — these two people did the most amazing things, I’ve never seen such effort performed by people in public service.”
COLONEL DAVID ROHRER, Fairfax County Chief of Police, thanked everybody for their community support, and said, “I’m so proud of this department and of all they will continue to do. This is a unique place and we are proud of all that Major Moser and former commanders have done. Mike Kline will do a great job as well; he has served Mount Vernon before and cares about the community and the men and women who work for him.”
Judy Schultheis, CAC president, said, “This is not a substation, it is the station.”
She reminisced about her tenure with the CAC, saying that Lt. Col Sellers got her started, and that Shawn [Barrett] was quiet and caring, but wonderful to work for.
“Having worked with Larry for two years, I know that he works too hard,” she said. “It’s phenomenal what they did [during Hurricane Isabel].”
Mattie Palmore, Gum Springs Advisory Board, said that it was a sad day and a happy day. As a magistrate for the past 10 years, she has had a good relationship with the commanders. She recalls a recent murder in Gum Springs where the police pulled all the apartment managers together and the perpetrators were caught. Palmore often calls the police when something is going on in the area.
“They are always there, and because of this, things are avoided,” Palmore said.
MOSER SAID that he was deeply moved by the number of people, and the diversity of folks who had taken time out of their schedule to be there.
“I was fortunate to be in Mount Vernon, but it is Mike Dittmer and others who deserve the credit,” Moser said. “It has been a privilege to be called commander of the Mount Vernon Station and an honor to be clustered with these people [former commanders]. None of us will allow things to go backwards.”
Moser spoke about how Mount Vernon is a special place with a lot of diversity and people who are willing to get involved. He said that last year the Mount Vernon station handled 31,367 incidents, 2,939 accidents, over 1,500 domestic disputes. Officers worked 13,000 hours of overtime, made 11,437 investigative stops and made 14,436 arrests.
“That is a tremendous amount of staffing,” he said, adding that out of all that only 13 formal citizen complaints were placed, and only one of those was sustained.
“We deal with people in the most challenging of times,” Moser said. “Yet, our officers have been recognized over 70 times and they are not afraid to do hard aggressive police work. Violent crime is down 18.9 percent.”
Moser said that they had a great relationship with the community. “Gerry and Dana ask hard questions and they usually give us time to get the answers,” he said. He said that the station also works well with Fort Belvoir.
He ended by saying, “Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your commander for two years.”
Kline said that he had known Moser for a long time and that he was one of the hardest working individuals he knew.
“It is a privilege to follow him but the bar is up,” he said. Having worked at the Mount Vernon District before, he remembered when Richmond Highway was a “vibrant place.” In other words, it was filled with bars and strip joints. All that is gone.
“I come back and the economy is booming, businesses are filled back up,” Kline said. “All the old hotels have been plowed under and now there are nice buildings there.”