Opinion: Commentary: 2019 State of the Station

Opinion: Commentary: 2019 State of the Station

Overall crime is down 5.5% in Mount Vernon District.

Police Cadets at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Police Cadets at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo contributed

The Mount Vernon District continues to be a very safe place to live, with Mount Vernon District Police Station’s relatively low crime rate reducing another 5.5% in 2018. In fact, Fairfax County is the safest community of its size in the Country. Citizen engagement is critical to keeping our neighborhoods safe and the Mount Vernon District is very engaged. While recent shootings in the area are concerning, Mount Vernon District Station Police Captain Brian Ruck continues to emphasize that they are believed to be gang related and not random acts of violence. The department continues to work closely with the community to prevent gang related incidents.

The recently released Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) 2018 Annual Report (https://issuu.com/fcpd/docs/2018_fcpd_annual_report?e=33283523/69537047) provides a great deal of information on everything from crime statistics, to community partnerships, police recruitment and the body-worn camera program. Highlights for the Mount Vernon District Police Station include:

Overall crime is down 5.5%.

Abductions are down from 28 in 2017 to 15 in 2018, with 11 arrests. Notably, most abductors are known to their victims.

Calls for service are down slightly, averaging 900 calls per day, with approximately 40 officers on duty each day.

There were over 400 fewer calls for criminal service in 2018, compared to 2017.

Narcotic arrests are up significantly.

DUI arrests are up 11% and alcohol related crashes are down 50%, likely due to increased patrols on midnight shifts.

There were almost 8000 traffic citations in 2018.

These impressive statistics are due to a number of factors, including residents actively reporting suspicious activity, officers regularly engaging in neighborhoods and increased enforcement. An indication of Mount Vernon District officers’ regular disbursement throughout the community is reflected in rapid response times. The average response time for a Priority 1 Call (life threatening) is 3.7 minutes, with the average for all calls at 8.8 minutes. This is the time from when the call is place to when an officer arrives on scene. It is also notable that with almost 60,000 calls for service last year, use of force was necessary in less than 1/10 of 1% of these calls. This is due in large part to the FCPD’s extensive training in situational de-escalation, use of force alternatives and mental health issues.

There are many ways residents and businesses can help improve safety in our communities. First and foremost, be vigilant and if you see something, say something. Next, consider joining the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC). Members of the CAC are involved with the Mount Vernon District Station, provide valuable service to their community, are more informed about County issues and laws, and enhance communications between FCPD and residents. Businesses can take advantage of the FCPD’s Business Crime Prevention Services which includes security checks, robbery prevention tips, personal safety information and active violence presentations. Residents and business owners can also attend the myriad of community engagement activities the MVD Station offers from Coffee with a Cop to Business Watch, Domestic/Relationship Violence Community Education to National Night Out. The Car Seat Safety Program, Senior Safety Scam Prevention and Home Security Checks are examples of more great programs.

For those who want to be even more involved, becoming a FCPD Officer is a great job and an excellent way to support your community at the same time. It is a priority of the department to hire officers that are representative of the communities they serve, and recruitment continues to be a challenge. Officers are well trained, well paid (salary range $50,000 - $77,000), have excellent benefits and get to make a difference in people’s lives every single day. High school students can get a feel for the job by volunteering as Public Safety Cadets. Cadets who apply for full time positions receive an extra step/pay increase upon hiring, priority processing during hiring and may receive college tuition reimbursement. For those a little older, consider becoming a part-time Police Cadet and take advantage of these same benefits. Finally, anyone interested in a career in law enforcement is highly encouraged to apply to the FCPD. To find out more, attend one of the many Law Enforcement Hiring Events. Learn more: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/jobs. The civic-minded men and women who serve in the FCPD truly make a difference and impact the lives of all of us in the Mount Vernon District. I hope you will join me in thanking them for their service and consider joining them!