Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown says that he’s on the level about his surprise retirement announcement, and that he and his wife will soon pulling up stakes for the West Coast in the near future to take care of urgent family business.
“This was a personal decision that my wife and I came to manifest in me having to retire,” Brown told ALXnow.
Brown has given a recommendation on who should be the acting chief until a permanent replacement is chosen at the conclusion of a national search. His last day is June 25. Right now he’s worried about summer crime, although says that crime levels are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.
The department is currently dealing with critical staffing issues, namely temporarily filling available street assignments for patrol officers by reassigning other officers.
“We’re meeting our staffing needs on the street,” Brown said. “We’re very concerned about what may happen this summer.”
APD is funded for 311 positions, and effective July 1 the department will have 305 officers on duty. Of those, six are on administrative duties pending the outcome of an investigation after a chase suspect died in D.C., and there are a number of officers on family medical leave and other various reasons, Brown said.
“In order to supplement provide some stability for those temporary shortages, we pulled other officers in to kind of fill the gaps for patrol,” he said. “And that’s normally customary in this business when you have these kinds of situations taking place.”
Brown added, “We’re seeing crime revert back to what was normal, with some minor suggestions to prior to the pandemic. We’re not seeing the same thing in terms of, for example, auto thefts, that we once saw. The shootings are also lower in number than we had last year, especially towards the summer.”
On the bright side, he said, three APD officers who were previously on administrative duties after a shootout in Old Town North have been cleared for duty by Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter. Additionally, APD will be reassigning six officers previously assigned to the School Resource Officer program, which Council eliminated last month.
As for the SROs, Brown said that he supported the program, but would not offer an opinion on Council’s decision.
“I thought there was value in the SRO program,” he said. “But then again, I don’t have the authority to make that decision. My job is to carry out the decision that was made by our elected officials.”
Brown also left six months before being vested in the city’s retirement system, although Brown says it doesn’t bother him and that the decision wasn’t about money. After a 46-year career in law enforcement, this isn’t his first retirement.
“The fact of the matter is, I’ve had several retirements,” he said. “I took this job because I cared about this police department.”
Brown started as a police officer in Los Angeles in 1977, and was the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol from 2004-2008. He was later California’s deputy secretary for public safety from 2008 to 2009, and then for six years was the director of the Office of Impaired Driving and Occupant Protection at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before being hired as Alexandria’s police chief in 2017.
Brown led the police department through a restructuring, as well as social unrest after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the COVID-19 pandemic, and an uptick in shooting events and other crime throughout the city. He restructured the department from four to three divisions, and took away deputy chief of police positions and added an assistant chief. He also says that under his leadership the department made strides with its 21st Century Policing effort.
“Some would argue differently, but we became very transparent ,” Brown said. “We put all of our policies, we put all of our reports on use of force on our website so that people could see that information and be critical of it.”
Brown continued, “Policing is never stable. Policing will always change, and it will change based upon events; it will change upon public discourse; it will change because the community, or… the nation at large has other questions, or other expectations… The real challenge for the law enforcement community is to be able to listen and to be able to adapt in order to survive, because if we don’t survive the public will get rid of you.”
Brown’s tenure was punctuated by dramatic events, starting with the Simpson Field Shooting, and culminating with the pandemic and social unrest after the murder of George Floyd. He would later pen an op-ed saying that the video of Floyd’s death appalled him, and he spoke with city leaders to the public and later joined protestors at a demonstration outside police headquarters.
Brown said his laundry list of people to thank is long.
“I admire this department for what it does,” he said. “It’s a good department, filled with great people, and they are out there every day taking care of the citizens, the residents of this city. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to work with them.”
What a week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.
Our top story was on President Joe Biden stopping by the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria last Friday with First Lady Jill Biden and Governor Ralph Northam.
Seeing the president around town is getting to be a regular thing. The president, who also visited in April, discussed “the state’s progress against the coronavirus pandemic” and the celebration of “summer as Virginia lifts all COVID-19 distancing and capacity restrictions.”
This week, we also followed up on a New York Times report about the Virginia Theological Seminary making reparations payments to slavery descendants. The program was launched in 2019, and the school issued $2,100 in annual payments to 15 families in February.
On Wednesday, the Fire Department released its restructuring plan, which goes into effect June 12, and is intended to help emergency response times by shifting resources. AFD will conduct community conversations on the restructuring on Saturday, June 5, at 10 a.m.; Monday, June 7, at 2 p.m. and Thursday, June 10, at 7 p.m.
Closing the short workweek, on Friday Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown announced that his retirement. Brown’s last day is June 25, and the City Manager is soon expected to name an acting chief to lead the department while the city’s undergoes a national search for a permanent replacement.
- Bennett-Parker says Levine mailer on Commonwealth of Virginia letterhead is ethics breach
- Wilson keeps fundraising lead over Silberberg in mayoral primary, McPike leads City Council candidates
- City Council candidate thinks divisive local issues are Republican comeback opportunity
- Former City Council member Willie Bailey announces bid for School Board
- A rare glimpse inside Alexandria’s abandoned and overgrown GenOn power plant
- Virginia Theological Seminary is making reparation payments to slavery descendants
- Alexandria military veterans honored on Memorial Day
- Alexandria brings back summer cooling and senior care program
- Police investigate Old Town hit and run
- Woman arrested in Braddock for attacking father of her child with pepper spray and a knife
- Driver in stolen U-Haul pickup truck successfully eludes Virginia State Police
- Alexandria Jail slowly lifting COVID restrictions, in-person attorney visitation for inmates resumes
- Mayor releases figures for ongoing eviction crisis in Alexandria
- ‘Rock It Grill’ eyeing karaoke expansion, bringing back Halloween party
- UPDATED: President Biden and Gov. Northam visited Alexandria this morning
- JUST IN: Virginia State Police chase U-Haul pickup truck through Alexandria
- Bennett-Parker says Levine mailer on Commonwealth of Virginia letterhead is ethics breach
- Goodie’s Frozen Custard & Treats opens in Old Town
- Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen closes for the foreseeable future in Old Town North
- Volunteers needed this weekend to help clear dangerous stretch of Mount Vernon Trail
- Wilson and Silberberg mayoral debate finale opens possibility of ‘tweaking’ Seminary Road Diet
- Homegrown Restaurant Group gives employees raise to $15 an hour, will ease COVID restrictions at 6 restaurants
- ‘Rock It Grill’ eyeing karaoke expansion, bringing back Halloween party
- Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
- Ownership of Landmark’s streets could make a big difference down the road
Photo via White House/Twitter
Mark Jinks isn’t getting any younger, and the Alexandria city manager says he is closing in on the end of his career.
“I turn 70 in 2022,” Jinks told ALXnow. “I am closer to the end than the beginning, that’s for sure.”
Jinks said that things are slowly getting back to normal, as the city’s annual birthday celebration — held virtually last year — will be a limited attendance in-person event on the waterfront this time around. Additionally, starting Monday he said that City Hall’s treasury and tax collection windows will be open five days a week, and every office in the city will have at least two staffers working in person.
While Jinks has not made it official, rumors are swirling about his impending retirement. After six years as Alexandria’s City Manager and more than 20 years since he started work as the city’s budget director in 1999, Jinks and his wife are thinking about taking some time off in the near future to see their daughter who lives in Spain.
“Whenever I decide to make a decision and give Council notice, it would be with plenty of notice,” Jinks said. “Hiring a city manager is not putting an ad in the newspaper. The process can take six to nine months.”
Mayor Justin Wilson would not comment on personnel decisions or timing, but had kind words about Jinks’ performance throughout the pandemic.
“I don’t comment on personnel decisions and timing,” Wilson said. “That being said, the Manager’s leadership has been absolutely critical over the past year as we have worked to address the human, financial and economic impacts of the pandemic. Alexandrians are well-served by his leadership during this time.”
Jinks said it will take years for the city to get back to its pre-pandemic economy.
“I think tourism and business travel were the two pieces that got hit the most, as far as tax revenues are concerned,” he said. “International tourism is practically zero nowadays. Who knows when that will come back. I’d say it’ll be several years until we’re back to where we were.”
It was another busy week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.
This week, ALXnow profiled Mayor Justin Wilson and his opponent, former Mayor Allison Silberberg. The pair are facing off in the June 8 Democratic primary, and have vastly different ideas on city governance.
Alexandria Police released its 2020 crime data this week, revealing a 19% increase in Part 1 crime and 15% reduction in Nuisance crimes. ALXnow also reported a number of noteworthy crime stories, including the release of a video showing a chase suspect who died after his arrest in D.C. on April 12, and the indictment of a West End murder suspect.
This week also brought the unbelievable story of locals chasing down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray.
On the vaccine front, the Alexandria Health Department paused Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, following new concerns about potential side effects.
In school news, Alexandria City Public Schools will shift to three feet distancing in classrooms on April 26. Additionally, the School Board has started a conversation on reducing the number of members from nine to six.
- ‘Dogs Of Del Ray’ mural to be finished next month
- Bullet strikes 7-Eleven door near Braddock Road Metro station
- JUST IN: Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Jennifer McClellan highlights race, women issues in Old Town
- T.C. Senior Sara Abbas surprised with $40,000 Titans In Tech Scholarship
- Spring2ACTion fundraiser sets $2.5 million goal for Alexandria nonprofits
- ACPS will go to 3 feet distancing in classrooms on April 26
- BREAKING: ‘Alexandria City High School’ chosen as replacement name for T.C. Williams High School
- JUST IN: Dr. Stephen Haering suddenly retires as director of Alexandria Health Department
- Southern Towers residents nervous as landlord steps up eviction proceedings
- Man stabbed at Old Town intersection
- NEW: Locals chase down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray
- JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
- Man faces 10 years for DWI in horrific West End crash in Safeway parking lot
- Planning Commission approves controversial subdivision, plants potential loophole for future denial
- JUST IN: Video released of police arresting chase suspect who died in D.C.
- JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
- JUST IN: West End murder suspect faces life plus 13 years in prison
Have a safe weekend!
Photo via ACPS/Facebook
Alexandria health director reflects on sudden retirement, tenure with city — “When Dr. Stephen Haering, director of the Alexandria Health Department for the past 11 years, unexpectedly announced his retirement on April 9, he did so for what he called ‘deeply personal’ reasons. Haering, whose retirement was effective immediately according to a city news release, told the Times in an interview that his departure was ‘not associated with the pandemic response.'” [Alex Times]
Vaccination drive brings a dose of hope for restaurant workers — “More than 1,000 restaurant and small business employees have filed through the doors of the old Fireflies restaurant over the past few weeks with the same purpose: receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. The location’s current vacancy made this the perfect site to administer such a large number of shots, Bill Blackburn, restaurateur and co-owner of Homegrown Restaurant Group, said. Blackburn joined forces with community organizer Charlotte Hall and Scott Shaw of Alexandria Restaurant Partners – who donated the space – to orchestrate the Alexandria Restaurant Drive whereby restaurant workers could receive vaccinations in a streamlined way.” [Alex Times]
Bren Mar Park demolition project to begin — “Demolition work will begin at Bren Mar Park on Collier Lane and Edsall Road in Alexandria, Virginia, as the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) removes a home on the property.” [Fairfax County]
Reimagined ‘Taste Of Old Town North’ to be held over 2 months — “The Reimagined Taste of Old Town North will start on April 21 and will continue through June 21. During the two-month period, residents can purchase a Taste Passport for $10 to use at participating businesses. These businesses will offer discounts to Passport holders.” [Patch]
Today’s weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 63F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph… A few clouds from time to time (in the evening). Low 44F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Taekwondo instructors and camp counselors — “Our growing company is currently seeking motivated and enthusiastic individuals who are GREAT with people to join our team at multiple locations. Our programs include martial arts classes for all ages, as well as After-school & Summer Camp programs for children 6-12 years old. Work hours tend to fall in the afternoons, evenings and Saturday mornings. This is a part-time position that can lead to a full-time position with excellent opportunity for advancement.” [Indeed]
Beyer Praises Biden’s Economic Relief Plan — “Soon we will have a president in the White House, and Democratic leaders controlling Congress, who understand what economists have told us from the beginning–that in order to recover and rebuild from this pandemic you must first control the coronavirus and that rent and food are not going to trickle down to millions of unemployed Americans.” [Beyer.house.gov]
COVID-19 Self-Testing Kiosks Closed Today — “Stay safe on January 20. To ensure the safety of the community and Curative employees, COVID-19 testing kiosks in Alexandria will be closed on Inauguration Day. Pre-register for testing on Tues, Jan 19 or Thurs, Jan 21.” [Twitter]
Polk Elementary Principal Announces Retirement — “James K. Polk Elementary School Principal PreeAnn Johnson will retire July 1, 2021… Johnson was honored last year by Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. as ACPS Principal of the Year.”[Zebra]
ACPS Minority and Special Needs Students Struggle With Virtual Learning — “The report, compiled by ACPS’ Department of Accountability and Research, shows that middle and high school students earned D’s and F’s in greater numbers across all demographic groups in the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year compared to first quarter of the 2019-20 school year.” [Alex Times]
Accessory Dwelling Unit Decision Coming Up In Alexandria — “Accessory dwelling units, defined as small apartment-style residences sharing a lot with a larger house, would be allowed citywide under the proposal from the Department of Planning and Zoning and Office of Housing. Units are considered accessory dwellings when they provide a separate kitchen, bathroom and bedroom from the main house. They could be located in an addition of an existing home or a within separate on a lot, such as a detached garage.” [Patch]
Former Mayor Recounts Taking Iconic Photo of Coretta Scott King — “Silberberg’s photo has been published extensively by many publications. The most memorable was after Mrs. King passed away in 2006, when the photo was used by Target for full-page ads the company took out in The Washington Post, The New York Times and other major metropolitan newspapers to commemorate King’s service to the country.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s Weather — “A few clouds from time to time (during the day). High 44F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low 24F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Experienced Tax Preparer — “The ideal candidate will have A MINIMUM of 5 years of Public Accounting experience, working in a tax environment. The ability to accurately prepare and review tax returns for various types of entities is a must! A desire to assist in expanding business growth and efficiency with fresh ideas is also highly desired.” [Indeed]
Rally for Rent Relief Today at Courthouse — “Join us to demand that Governor Northam stop evictions and redirect $1 billion for rent relief. Wednesday, July 1 at 11 am outside the Alexandria Courthouse.” [Facebook]
Longtime Alexandria Firefighter Retires — “AFD would like to congratulate Captain Sam Parker on his retirement after over 33 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Alexandria. We wish him all the best as he begins his next chapter!” [Twitter]
Le Refuge Restaurant Reopening — “🍴🍷BONJOUR🍷🍴!!!! We are very excited to announce that we are reopening MONDAY JULY 6TH!!! Thank you so much for your patience and understanding,We cannot wait to see everyone!!!” [Facebook]
Pedego Electric Bikes Closed Next Week — “Pedego Alexandria will be closed from July 5th through July 12th for a much needed and highly anticipated family vacation! Feel free to call and leave a message or send us an email and we will get back to you when we can.” [Facebook]
Kidcreate Studio Crafts New Approach — “Kidcreate Studio hosted its grand opening March 14 — the day after Alexandria and Fairfax County closed schools to slow the spread of coronavirus.” [Alexandria Living]
New Job: Experienced Sushi Chef — “Kaizen Tavern is looking for a Sushi Chef to join the team. We offer a great salary, benefits and the opportunity to grow a business together. The position is meant for a skilled, passionate chef. Work with a dedicated team of culinary and hospitality professionals, who are committed to providing the absolute best experience for their guests.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Among Top Cities Where Women Find Success — “Here in Alexandria, more than two-thirds of women have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The median income of women is more than $75,800. In addition, almost one-third (31.3 percent) of local businesses are owned by women.” [Alexandria Living]
Mayor Supports Governor Extending Rent Moratorium — “The extraordinary financial pressure facing residents of Alexandria who are experiencing unemployment or loss of income continues. Today, I supported the Governor of Virginia’s efforts to extend the moratorium on evictions to allow state/local rent relief programs to assist.” [Facebook]
Circuit Court Judge Nolan Dawkins Retires — “People in Alexandria turned out Friday to celebrate the retirement of the circuit court’s first Black judge. News4’s Northern Virginia bureau chief Julie Carey reports.” [News4]
Volunteer Alexandria Makes 7,000 Face Masks — “This week, Griffin, Jenelle, and Caroline helped bag masks. Griffin and Jenell even helped two days in a row! So far, volunteers have completed 17 orders totaling 7,000 masks that will be going to local nonprofits.” [Facebook]
Together We Bake is Taking Orders — “Orders are now available for contactless pick-up! You can pick up your orders Tuesday’s and Thursday’s between 10:30 and 3. Please allow 24 hours for your order to be processed.” [Facebook]
City Needs Employers for Job Fair — “WDC is seeking employers to participate in the Virginia Careerworks Alexandria/Arlington Virtual Job Fair on Wednesday, July 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participation is free. Employers must register by July 6.” [Facebook]
New Job: Pet Care Specialist at Barkley Square — “We are looking for dedicated animal lovers to join our growing company! We offer a competitive benefits package including health insurance, supplemental insurance, IRA, and smartphone for full-time VIP client routes. Applicants MUST have a car, internet access, and basic computer skills to be considered for employment. We conduct a thorough background check before hiring.” [Indeed]
After 34 years and no sick leave, James “JJ” Jackson wrapped up his last shift at Fire Station 203 yesterday (Tuesday).
Short of a little time in Del Ray and Old Town, Jackson said he’s spent every year of his career at the firehouse in Alexandria’s Beverly Hills neighborhood.
“I’m excited,” Jackson said. “I’m ready. I’m definitely going to miss my colleagues.”
34 years of service. All 34 being spent in the Beverly Hills Firehouse on Cameron Mills Road. ZERO hours of sick leave used. JJ enjoy your retirement, congratulations and thank you. @AlexandriaVAFD @SmedleyCorey https://t.co/7uG159IiY3
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) November 26, 2019
Jackson said he quickly fell in love with the station and its coverage area. (The station is now in the process of being demolished and replaced with a new firehouse.)
“I like it up here,” Jackson said. “It’s a neighborhood feel, a little less city. That’s what I liked about it. The neighbors always take care of us and bring us stuff at Christmas.”
Jackson started on Oct. 1, 1984, and said he’s never taken a day of sick leave, but wasn’t sure if that was a record in the department.
Acting Fire Chief @SmedleyCorey wishes Firefighter JJ Jackson well after 34 years of service with AFD. Thanks for your service and your dedication to this profession. Enjoy retirement! pic.twitter.com/GSQsjrdlcX
— Alexandria Fire-EMS (@AlexandriaVAFD) November 26, 2019
Over those years, Jackson said the biggest changes were the incorporation of computers into firefighting and other new technologies.
“There’s a lot more EMS involvement too,” Jackson said. “The firefighting job is basically the same though.”
Jackson said his main plans once he retires are to travel and spoil his grandchildren.
Photo via Alexandria Fire-EMS/Twitter