Alexandria, VA

The Alexandria City School Board next month will hold a bi-annual review on its memorandum of understanding with the Alexandria Police Department.

“We’re looking at our collaboration with the Alexandria Police Department,” ACPS Executive Director of Communications Helen Lloyd told ALXnow. “We’re making sure that it’s a public review process.”

School resource officers were reassigned to the APD patrol division when the pandemic shut down the school system in mid-March for the remainder of the school year. The MOU would continue the agreement to provide officers at T.C. Williams High School and other ACPS schools when buildings eventually reopen.

“As a general practice, unless there is a clear and imminent threat to safety, requests from school staff for SRO or other law enforcement assistance are to be channeled through a school administrator,” according to the 2018 MOU. “SROs are responsible to lead the investigation and questioning of students related to suspected violations of criminal law.”

In 2018, a SRO was fired after discharging his firearm inside his office at George Washington Middle School. The officer was later rehired by Police Chief Michael Brown. The officer is no longer an SRO.

The MOU continues, “Whenever practical, arrests of a student or staff member should be accomplished outside of school hours in order to not disrupt the educational process or school setting.”

Sometimes that isn’t possible. In February, a T.C. Williams High School student was arrested during school hours and charged with murdering two people.

The public hearing on the MOU will be held virtually at 4 p.m. on October 1, and the updated document must be signed by Brown and the superintendent by November 2, 2020.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Co-sponsoring Legislation to Impeach U.S. Attorney General — “Accusing political opponents of “sedition” then morphing into an arch libertarian when Trump cronies are indicted. Attacking career prosecutors for doing their jobs. AG Barr is a menace to the rule of law–I’m cosponsoring legislation to begin impeachment proceedings against him.” [Twitter]

Absentee Voting Begins Today in Alexandria — “The ballot includes contests for President and Vice President of the United States, one member of the U.S. Senate, the member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 8th Congressional District, and two amendments to the Constitution of Virginia.” [Patch]

King & Rye Opens in Alexandria — “Check out @Alexandrian_VA’s new restaurant, King & Rye. This downtown restaurant opened earlier this month, and features a large outdoor patio, intimate terrace, and full bar serving specialty cocktails. The perfect location for a private event.” [Twitter]

Douglas MacArthur Elementary School Rebuild Comes in Over Budget — “City Council approved a development special use permit on Saturday for the Douglas MacArthur Modernization Project, which is currently $5 to $7 million over budget. The project, which involves demolishing the existing Douglas MacArthur Elementary School and rebuilding a new one, will increase the school’s capacity from 558 to 850 students.” [Alex Times]

Alexandria Police Conduct Deescalation Training — “Yesterday APD’s Tactical Training and Response Unit conducted officer safety and deescalation training with the Traffic Safety Section. These training’s teach ways to stabilize situations so that more time, options, and resources can be called upon.” [Twitter]

Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub Celebrates Half-Way to St. Patrick’s Day — See Irish music on a Facebook Live performance from Thursday night. [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, partly to mostly cloudy. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 74F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. At night, a few clouds. Low 49F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Marketing Manager — “Develop and manage strategic, comprehensive marketing campaigns for NSBA (National School Boards Association) revenue- generating products, services and events.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Supported Murder of Portland Protestor — “In televised comments yesterday Donald Trump called for extrajudicial murder and later expressed his desire to remain in office past term limits imposed by the Constitution. Today members of the party that supposedly backs ‘limited government’ pretend not to know what he said.” [Twitter]

Second Round of Business Grants Available — “Applications for a second round of Alexandria Back to Business grants will begin Sept. 30 for qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to offset costs related to reopening or rescaling.” [Twitter]

Free COVID-19 Testing Today in Alexandria — “Free COVID-19 testing in Alexandria,VA on September 16, 2020.Please read flyer for more details. [Twitter]

Braddock West Developers Seek Community Input — “During their presentation, the team behind Braddock West provided details of their proposed plan for the lot located at 727 N. West St. directly across the street from the Braddock Road Metro Station. They intend to tear down 10 existing single-family homes and replace them with a 7 story residential building with retail space on the ground level and an underground parking garage.” [Alexandria Living]

Lena’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tap Selling Kits for National Pizza Day — “On Sept. 20 only, Lena’s will offer their Family DIY Pepperoni Pizza Kit for families to make together at home to celebrate the holiday commemorating this crowd-pleasing favorite food. The kit is available for take-out or delivery via LenasWoodfire.com.” [LenasWoodFire.com]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, a mainly sunny sky. High 77F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. At night, a few clouds from time to time. Low 62F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Police Officer — “It’s your lucky day! APD has added new dates for police tests: 9/22 at 5 PM, 9/26 at 9AM, and 9/26 at 12PM. You must register in advance Bring your drivers license and a second original ID- US passport, social security card or birth certificate.” [Twitter]

New Job: Part Time Office Assistant — “Del Ray Artisans nonprofit is seeking an Office Assistant. This is a paid position for 12 hours per week, with a set schedule (Thursday and Friday 12-6pm). Position entails assisting the Office Manager with general office work with emphasis on organizational skills. Working knowledge of Microsoft Office / Google Docs required in an all-Mac OS environment. Del Ray Artisans strictly follows the ALX Promise Program, keeping visitors and staff safe during this pandemic.” [Facebook]

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A 33-year-old man was struck by a bullet as he was driving in the 4600 block of W. Braddock Road early on Sunday evening.

The shooting occurred at around 5 p.m., and the victim was shot by a suspect in a vehicle driving in the same direction, according to police.

“The driver and victim was struck by a bullet and was transferred to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

The incident occurred not far from a shooting incident that occurred on August 17. It is near Interstate 395, the Southern Towers apartment complex and a number of businesses.

The incident occurred about a mile-and-a-half from a residential community where the city’s first murder was committed at the end of July.

Map via Google Maps

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The Alexandria chapter of the International Union of Police Organizations has strongly come out against the establishment a community police review board.

In a letter to ALXnow, the union’s leaders, who represent 250 sworn Alexandria Police Department officers (out of 318 in the force), said that the department is a “beacon of honor, respect, and accountability to the residents and visitors of the city.”

“We ask that City Council make reasonable, appropriate decisions based on facts specific to residents and employees of this city, not create a superfluous program in attempt to make an example of our department,” wrote Presidents Lt. Marcus Downey and Ofc. Oscar Olland. “Immediately following the Floyd incident, Alexandria City Council voted to create a Community Police Review Board (CRB), much to the surprise of the hundreds of Alexandria Police Officers.”

The letter continues, “The death of George Floyd during an encounter with the Minneapolis Police Department, and several subsequent high-profile incidents, have created public scrutiny of law enforcement as a whole and a reevaluation of the profession, including the duties and responsibilities of our law enforcement officers and the standards and practices of the agencies that employ them.”

The union stated that APD responded to 80,928 calls for service and arrested 4,316 subjects last year, and that 28 arrests required the use of force. A representative also told ALXnow that an auditing board would be more appropriate.

“Each of the 28 incidents in 2019 was deemed appropriate,” the IUPA letter states. “More information about these incidents are available on the police department’s website and are shared with the Human Rights Commission as well.”

As previously reported, there has been a renewed focus on police activities this year. During the worst days of the pandemic, patrol officers were sent home to telework, and there were demonstrations throughout the city in the wake of the death of George Floyd. In July, an internal survey of one of the police department unions found that a majority of officers surveyed were upset over the firing of an officer for unjustified use of force. The survey by the Alexandria chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (the other police union in Alexandria) found that morale was low and a majority of officers surveyed were wary of not receiving a fair administrative process if their conduct is called into question.

On Tuesday, the Alexandria City Council unanimously asked that City Manager Mark Jinks’ proposal establishing a review board include subpoena power and an independent investigator/auditor.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that he was content with the manager’s proposal as presented. He voted with his colleagues to make additions to the proposal, which Jinks said could be brought back to the table at next month’s legislative meeting on October 17.

“We have a professional, highly-skilled police department staffed by dedicated men and women who bravely serve the residents of our community,” Wilson told ALXnow after reading the letter. “I am grateful for their commitment and will work closely with them as we continue the community dialogue on civilian oversight.”

City Councilman Mo Seifeldein introduced the legislation establishing the review board that passed unanimously in June.

“I support the union’s right to express its views on this matter,” Seifeldein said. “I am thankful for those who are serving our community.”

City Councilman John Chapman said that police should reach out to council.

“I am open to meet with representatives from APD, and would prefer to meet and chat with them versus talk past each other in the press,” Chapman said.

The full letter from IUPA is below.

Read More

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Morning Notes

A Quarter of Alexandria Voters Have Requested Mail-In Ballots — “Over a quarter of Alexandria’s registered voters have applied for a ballot by mail for this November’s election (!!!). Ballots will be mailed out beginning next week when in-person early voting also begins. You can apply online today for a mail ballot!” [Twitter]

Seven Alexandria Students Make National Merit Scholarship List — “Students from Alexandria area high schools have been named 2021 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, taking the first step in securing a scholarship in the competitive program.” [Patch]

Beyer Criticizes Trump for Complaining Over Scandals — “You were recorded admitting you deceived the entire country about the danger of a virus that has killed more Americans than all wars since WWII combined. Can’t lie your way out of this one.” [Twitter]

ACPS Needs Donations for School Supplies — “While this year is considerably different because of the coronavirus pandemic, students still need essential supplies. ACPS is asking for community support. However, instead of donating physical items, they request that interested parties donate funds electronically.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Police Officer Appointed to State Board — “Governor Ralph Northam announced on September 4 that he has appointed Alexandria Police Officer Bennie L. Evans to the Commonwealth of Virginia Criminal Justice Services Board.” [Facebook]

Here’s Seven Things to do in Alexandria This Fall — “Enjoy a cruise aboard the tall ship Providence or set out for the new cat café or coming-soon dog bar. Contemplate new outdoor artwork like the ‘Come Together’ mural in Old Town. Mask up and visit just-opened independent businesses including the D.C. area’s first zero-waste sustainable grocer plus the national eco-conscious brand Patagonia, coming to King Street in September. Twelve new restaurants will tempt you with takeout or outdoor seating. Don your face mask and discover what’s new in Alexandria.” [Visit Alexandria]

Workforce Development Center Offers Job Counseling — “Are you recently unemployed or want to change your career and don’t know where to start? We are now offering free one-on-one Job Search Coaching to help Alexandrians who have experienced job loss during the pandemic.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Thunderstorms likely during the day. Potential for heavy rainfall. High 83F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.Thunderstorms likely in the evening. Then a chance of scattered thunderstorms later on. Low 73F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Assistant Director — “The qualified applicant will be eager to support the organization’s effort to help Alexandria high school students obtain college scholarships and college and financial aid advising. This position is full-time, year-round and provides an opportunity to work in a small, dynamic, mission-driven, collegial nonprofit organization.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria Police are investigating reports of a man performing lewd behavior in an alleyway in the 2200 block of Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray.

The suspect was seen allegedly masturbating in an alleyway near a number of businesses at around 10 p.m. on Thursday, August 13 and Tuesday, August 25. In the second incident, a woman reported that the suspect ran from the alley and fled the area in a black flatbed tow truck.

Police said the suspect is a bald man in his 30s.

Police also said this is not the same person as the man who was arrested in for public indecency near the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center on August 22.

Map via Google Maps

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The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday night unanimously sent a proposal establishing a community police review board back to the drawing board.

In Tuesday night’s legislative meeting, Councilman Mo Seifeldein said that city staff did not include his desire to give the review board independent investigative authority to look into police misconduct and issue subpoenas. Seifeldein said he was clear with his request to City Manager Mark Jinks when Council unanimously directed the creation of the review board proposal in June.

Jinks said that the police department’s investigative authority works well and that he presented a proposal to fit Council’s request.

“I believe that we bought forth a specific proposal that was within the confines, within the parameters, of what we believe Council was looking for — a police review board in an ordinance form,” Jinks said. “We did not interpret Council’s direction to be that a board itself be an investigative authority, and that authority be removed from the police department.”

Seifeldein asked Jinks if he remembered the June meeting and said he does not want to take investigative authority away from the police.

“I don’t know, to be honest with you, Mr. Jinks, too many reasonable people who would have watched that meeting and come up with that same conclusion that the Council did not want to look at investigative authority,” Seifeldein said.

Mayor Justin Wilson said he believed that Jinks did not intentionally mislead Council with his proposal.

“I believe that the city manager and his staff presented a recommendation that is in alignment with what the council requested him to do,” Wilson said.

Jinks presented Council with a proposal that would create an independent auditor to work with the board to conduct “broad evaluations, offer recommendations for improving policing policies, practices, procedures and training.” The proposal limits the board from investigating complaints that occurred before June 9. That includes any complaints against the department, “any financial management, or procurement decisions made by APD… individual hiring, assignment and promotional decisions made by the APD.”

“We do want an independent investigation of some things,” said Councilwoman Amy Jackson. “That’s what the point of this is.”

Councilman Canek Aguirre said staff needs to go back to the drawing board and asked for more information on other community police review boards around the country. In Virginia, there are such boards in Fairfax County, Virginia Beach and Charlottesville.

“We do need to go back to the drawing board to reassess what are our options and power,” Aguirre said, adding that the proposal was created within a short timeframe. “I think that we need to go back and revisit the whole thing.”

Jinks said he understood Council’s request and that he will present an option for the community police review board with subpoena power with an auditor/independent investigator at Council’s next legislative meeting on October 17.

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Morning Notes

Beyer: We Must Protect the U.S. Postal Service —  “I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.” [Gazette]

Three City Parks Scheduled for Improvements — “Projects at or near Powhatan, Hooffs Run, and Brenman Parks to occur over next two months.” [Zebra]

City Holding Virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Online — “Alexandria’s ceremony is prerecorded and virtual to avoid a large gathering during the pandemic. It will include remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Mark Jinks, and representatives from the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office. There will also be a “Return to Quarters” bell-ringing ceremony.” [Patch]

Alexandria Wedding Showcase Goes Virtual — “Tune in virtually on Sunday, Sept. 13 to hear from a variety of vendors on trends, wedding industry changes, and what you need to know while planning your wedding during a pandemic.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Concert Series Starts Friday — “Enjoy the Carlyle Farmers Market while you attend the Concert! Alcohol is available for purchase at select vendor stands and bar as well BYOB-Bring Your Own Beverage will be observed in designated area.” [Facebook]

Harvest Moon Yoga Tonight in Del Ray — “Shine on Harvest Moon! Free outdoor yoga in Del Ray returns every Wed. Sept. 9 – Oct. 14, 6:00 – 7:00 pm at the Del Ray Psych & Wellness lot, 1900 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Corner of E. Bellefonte) in the Heart of Del Ray.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. Low 72F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Walker and Pet Sitter — “Are you a veterinary technician who has been pet-sitting under the table to supplement your income? Have you worried about your lack of insurance or back-up plan if you got sick? If so, then joining Cat Nanny Jess might be the answer to all your worries!” [Indeed]

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City Councilman Mo Seifeldein says that the community police review board proposal going before City Council tonight (Tuesday, September 8) is “dead in the water.”

The proposal from Council was approved unanimously in June, and does not give the review board the ability to independently investigate police misconduct and issue subpoenas if necessary. The request to include the authority was made by the NAACP, Tenants and Workers, and other local groups, Seifeldein said.

“The Police Review Board Recommendation, while well intentioned, is DOA as it is deaf to the pain of over policed communities, disregards an expressed request by Council, and is essentially a glorified pacifier,” Seifeldein told ALXnow. “I am looking forward to the justification of this proposal.”

Seifeldein introduced the legislation that passed unanimously in June. In Virginia, there are such boards in Fairfax County, Virginia Beach and Charlottesville.

Council will also review a resolution that “recognizes the urgent need to adopt a police body worn camera policy and it shall make it a priority in the City Council work plan.”

The proposal, which was drawn up by the city manager’s office, states that the board will “provide meaningful assessments and corrective recommendations intended to remedy discriminatory practices, including race and social inequities, that it may find.”

The proposal would limit the board from investigating complaints that occurred before June 9, which is the date that council voted for the creation of the board. That includes any complaints against the department, “any financial management, or procurement decisions made by APD… individual hiring, assignment and promotional decisions made by the APD,” according to the proposal.

As previously reported, there has been a renewed focus on police activities this year. During the worst days of the pandemic, patrol officers were sent home to telework, and there were demonstrations throughout the city in the wake of the death of George Floyd. In July, an internal survey of one of the police department unions found that a majority of officers surveyed were upset over the firing of an officer for unjustified use of force. The survey by the Alexandria chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association found that morale was low and a majority of officers surveyed were wary of not receiving a fair administrative process if their conduct is called into question.

Police Chief Michael L. Brown said in June that such a review board has a negative connotation.

“I do not disagree with the concept of oversight,” Brown said. “I may be mincing words here, but a ‘review board’ as its phrased in our world, in policing, has a very negative connotation.”

The proposal states that the board would be made up of:

  • Seven city residents appointed by Council
  • Three members from historically racially or socially marginalized communities that have “commonly experienced disparate policing in the city”
  • A representative from a racial or social justice organization
  • A member with law enforcement experience
  • Four members would serve three year terms, three members would serve on the inaugural board for 18 month terms

Badge photo via Alexandria Police Department/Facebook

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It’s the end of another work week in Alexandria!

There was a lot of crime this week, as police responded to multiple shots fired incidents in the Parker Gray area on September 2. There was also another carjacking in the West End — the latest in a recent uptick that prompted Mayor Justin Wilson to ask the public for help in reducing the number of vehicle-related thefts.

But there is also some good news to report, as businesses are opening in the city despite the daily pressures of the pandemic. This week we took a look inside The Company Of Books used book store in Del Ray, and we covered the city’s new Wellness District, which is providing a number of free programs and discounts for the recently expanded Wellness Month.

Also this week, Alexandria City Public Schools cut down a 150-year-old tree to make way for a concession stand. The move was criticized by activists and former Mayor Allison Silberberg. With the destruction of the tree, the renovation project for the Parker-Gray Stadium has now officially begun.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Alexandria Woman Uninjured in Tuesday Carjacking at Gunpoint in Potomac Yard
  2. Beatley Central Library Closed Until Further Notice Due to ‘Emergency Conditions’
  3. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  4. Police Investigating Multiple Gunshots Fired in Parker Gray/Braddock
  5. Alexandria’s COVID Positive Testing Rate Lowest in Region
  6. Halal Slaughterhouse Construction Begins, Opening Reset to Mid-November
  7. Update: Chalk Graffiti Decrying Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf Sprayed In Front of Wrong House
  8. Braddock ‘Elizabeth’s Counter’ Last of Regional Chain After Bankruptcy Filing
  9. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  10. North Potomac Yard Plans Going to Planning Commission, Board of Architectural Review
  11. ACPS Cuts Down 150-Year Old Tree to Make Way for Concession Stand

Have a safe weekend!

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A 27-year-old Alexandria man has been charged with illegally shooting a handgun in the Parker Gray neighborhood of Old Town, Alexandria.

The incident in the 1200 block of Madison Street was one of two shootings that occurred in the area on September 2, and police are not releasing the identity of the suspect on the grounds that it will impede their ongoing investigation. Police responded to calls for service of multiple shots fired at around 5:40 p.m.

Police also responded to another call for shots fired at around the same time that day in the 700 block of North Fayette Street, which is right around the block from the 1200 block of Madison. No one was reportedly injured in both incidents, and police said that the shootings are part of an ongoing investigation.

There was also a shooting in the 1200 block of Madison in late July.

There have now been multiple reports of shootings in Old Town since July 9. There was also a stabbing in the area on July 17 and a violent carjacking on Euille Street on July 14One suspect was arrested after a July 11 shooting, but their identity was not released.

The shootings have largely occurred in and around Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority public housing properties near the Braddock Road Metro station, and ARHA is now installing security cameras, according to sources. Police have also increased their uniformed and non-uniformed presence in the area.

Map via Google Maps

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