For North Springfield resident Jeff Schaefer, having a safe community starts with neighbors looking out for each other.
“We all have to take a part in that,” said Schaefer, who coordinates the North Springfield Neighborhood Watch program. “You go around, capture information, if there’s a street light out, or something else suspicious, and take care of it.”
For the majority of issues that come up on the watch, on-duty volunteers report to the police and hand things off.
Though sometimes, someone will see something or even be the victim of the crime, and post about it on the neighborhood Facebook page. They may do this before, or even instead of, calling Fairfax County Police.
That’s where North Springfield Civic Association president Ken Balbuena will reach out to them, whether they officially reported it or not. Balbuena then initiates another chain of contact with their local Franconia police station by reaching out to the community’s designated Crime Prevention Officer Allie Eggers.
Eggers is a sworn officer and liaison between the citizens and station.
“She’s our preliminary contact,” Balbuena said. “We’ll ask ‘Hey, this is going on, we hear there’s a detective assigned and a couple of officers who’ve been on the scene. She’ll work on the back end and give us a more disclosable report we can share with our community.”
THE NEXT COMMUNITY over is Ravensworth Farm -- Balbuena said there’s a lot of coordination between their respective Crime Prevention Officers as well.
With the speculation that can go on, especially over social media, when there’s an incident in a community, Balbuena said the relationship with Eggers is a successful one for “keeping the open lines with our community, sharing factual information.”
That strong partnership he said goes a long way in preventing public mistrust of law enforcement.
Schaefer said he sends Officer Eggers an email about once a month, following up on something that may have come from a Neighborhood Watch shift.
“She’s great to work with,” he said. “She’s been responsive, she’s been good about that. We know we’ll get an answer.”
Schaefer recounted a recent report of graffiti in the neighborhood that was reported through Eggers and taken care of quickly.
That utility of a community contact point for police, as well as regular FCPD blotter reports, crime mapping at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/policevent and local updates through the website www.crimereports.com, are what impress Schaefer about Fairfax County law enforcement.
“It’s there, the transparency and accountability,” he said. “Fairfax County does it right. Police are really here to help.”
Most recently, Balbuena, Schaefer, Eggers and FCPD detectives have been dealing with a series of car and home break-ins and tire-slashings in North Springfield, the latter of which happened to three vehicles over two different days.
“There’s a whole range of theories as to who it could be,” Balbuena said, including teenagers, homeless people and workers who had been in the area paving streets.
“Some people make that assumption it’s the street pavers,” he said. “But it’s going to go back to what do you report as speculation versus factual.”
RESIDENTS will be able to hear a factual update at the next regular meeting of the North Springfield Civic Association on Oct. 5, its first since May.
The meeting is an embodiment of the association’s relationship with Eggers and the Franconia station. “It’s letting police and detectives in the field handle the investigation,” Balbuena said. “Then having a dialogue and us moving the information on into the community.”
The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of North Springfield Elementary School, located at 7602 Heming Ct in Springfield. All community members and the public are invited to attend. For more information, visit www.nscivic.org.
Officer Eggers did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.