Hundreds solemnly gathered outside Police Headquarters this morning to dedicate the Alexandria Police Department Suicide Memorial.
The names of officers Jason Kline, who died in 2004, and his best friend, Steven Pagach IV, who died in 2011, are etched in the memorial.
The memorial is reportedly the second in the United States to honor police officers who have died by suicide, after the Boston Police Officer Suicide Memorial Wall. It is next to the APD memorial for officers who died in the line of duty.
APD Lieutenant Tara May came up with the idea after graduating from the National FBI Academy last year.
“Jason and Steven’s loss was devastating to the department,” May said. “My fear is, you know, do we have more of Jason and Steven’s we don’t know about walking around the hallways. I’m hoping that this will remind people that there is hope, and there’s help when it’s needed.”
Police Chief Don Hayes is also a pastor and gave the invocation.
“We pray that this memorial will always be a reminder and a remembrance to those who are now wearing this uniform that care,” Hayes said. “And that we don’t want to see anybody else’s name on this memorial.”
Retired Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, an APD veteran, is the chair of the chairman of the board of Ivy Hill Cemetery, which donated the granite slabs used in the memorial.
“It recognizes these two men for their sacrifices in a respectful and dignified way,” Lawhorne said. “This dancing slate of granite will forever whisper the names of Jason and Steve, that they are not forgotten.”
Retired Police Chief David Baker donated the funds for the inscription on the memorial.
“We miss their enormous presence in our lives,” Baker said of Kline and Pagach. “We miss their contributions and commitment to public safety and we salute their excellence in bravery in service to others. Make no mistake, they are and will always be our brothers and blue.”
Above the officers’ names, the memorial states: “In darkness, there is light. In honor and memory of the officers we have lost to suicide. Thank you for your dedication and service.”
Retired Deputy Chief Hassan Aden said that APD must confront the stigma of mental health in policing.
“Policing is a profession that demands unwavering dedication, sacrifice and resilience,” Aden said. “Every day officers put on their uniforms, not knowing what challenges they will face what dangers they will encounter, or how deeply those experiences will impact their lives. The weight of the badge is not just physical, it’s emotional, and mental.”
May said the department has work to do to address mental health challenges of its officers.
“In our collective bargaining negotiations, we asked for an improvement in the department’s mental health programs,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Capitol officer who committed suicide was from Alexandria — “Very sad news: @MikevWUSA @wusa9 reports MPD Officer Kyle DeFreytag died by suicide in July after defending the US Capitol on January 6. His obituary says he was a hiker, drummer, motorcyclist, and resident of Alexandria, who served with MPD for five years” [WUSA9]
Alexandria, neighboring health directors recommend wearing face masks indoors — “Today, all five Northern Virginia Health Directors issued a joint letter of interim recommendations for mask wearing in Northern Virginia. The letter was issued by Health Directors from the City of Alexandria, as well as Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties to Northern Virginia Mayors, Chairs and Chief Administrative Officers with the recommendation that individuals wear masks while indoors in government and other public settings, regardless of vaccination status.” [City of Alexandria]
Olympics update — Noah Lyles races today in the 200 meter final at 8:55 a.m., and Tynita Butts-Townsend competes in a high jump qualifier at 8 p.m. [ALXnow]
City makes September feedback deadline for making outdoor business programs permanent — “Programs include the closure of the 100 block of King Street to vehicles, the use of on-street parking spaces for dining, retail and fitness use and the curbside loading zones for customer pick-up of food and merchandise. City Council approved the initiatives in 2020 to provide safe opportunities to patronize and support City businesses during the challenging economic times associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary programs are in effect until January 1, 2022.” [City of Alexandria]
Traffic and Parking Board to vote on expanding Capital Bikeshare — “The existing bikeshare stations are located mostly in the eastern and northern regions of Alexandria, with plans to not only add more stations in Old Town but to also add several stations in the West End. In regard to the final seven bikeshare locations that have yet to be determined, Casey Kane, a member of the board, encouraged staff to prioritize locations around Holmes Run.” [AlexTimes]
Cat cafe sees 180 felines adopted in first year — “Mount Purrnon, Alexandria’s only cat café, has found fur-ever homes for 180 cats in its first year in business… The cafe area, separated from the cats (for obvious reasons), serves a variety of food, coffee and drinks. There is also free Wi-Fi and day/monthly passes for those who wish to telework from there. Regular special events include Jeopurrdy, meditation, and wine tastings.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 81F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph… Mostly clear (in the evening). Low 62F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Entry level computer programmer — “As the fastest growing employer of emerging tech talent across the U.S, Revature looks to hire over 300 innovative Entry Level Computer Programmers in the next 4 weeks.” [Indeed]
(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) After trying to kill herself in the Alexandria jail on Wednesday, Chelsea Manning was released from custody by a federal judge on Thursday.
Her Friday court date to plead for release has also been canceled.
BREAKING: A federal judge has ordered the release of Chelsea Manning: "the court finds Ms. Manning's appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose." pic.twitter.com/8krTFahWZM
— The Appeal (@theappeal) March 12, 2020
Manning is recovering after the suicide attempt, according to Sheriff Dana Lawhorne.
“There was an incident at approximately 12:11 p.m. [Wednesday] at the Alexandria Detention Center involving inmate Chelsea Manning,” Lawhorne told ALXnow. “It was handled appropriately by our professional staff and Ms. Manning is safe.”
It is not clear how the 32-year-old Manning tried to kill herself or in which hospital she is recovering.
In her last tweet on Feb. 19, the soldier-turned-Wikileaks-whistleblower posted about the motion for her release.
especially when it feels like the world will end tomorrow 🌎🔥
we must plant the seeds of hope today 🌱🌈💕https://t.co/SzQaLGIjoJ
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) February 19, 2020
Manning has been in the Alexandria jail for more than a year on civil contempt charges for refusing to testify against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, to whom she disclosed 750,000 classified documents in 2010.
In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for espionage, and four years later her sentence was commuted by President Obama. She was released in 2017, and the following year unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat, but was jailed again last May for refusing to testify before a grand jury.
Chelsea Manning, who has been jailed since 2019 for refusing to testify about WikiLeaks, tried to take her own life, her legal team says. The former intelligence analyst is recovering in a hospital. https://t.co/SU9YO9bkxo
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 12, 2020
Redevelopment Plan in North Old Town — “As the American Physical Therapy Association prepares for a move to Potomac Yard, its current headquarters in North Old Town Alexandria is now slated for a major mixed-use redevelopment.” [Washington Business Journal]
ACPS Teacher’s Harrowing Journey — “When Onelio Mencho-Aguilar was 13-years-old, he left his mother and siblings to embark on a treacherous journey through rural Guatemala to the U.S. alone… against the odds, he found a home here in Alexandria and with the support he found, he thrived. First as a student at T.C. Williams High School and now as a teacher at the International Academy where new arrivals to the U.S. are educated and supported.” [Alexandria City Public Schools]
New Suicide Prevention Effort — “DCHS now offers two locations where Alexandria residents and employees can obtain free locking medication boxes and firearm trigger or cable locks as part of Lock and Talk Northern Virginia. This safety program is a collaborative initiative of the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia.” [City of Alexandria]
Community Services Board Marks Anniversary — “On Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers, Alexandria Mayor Justin M. Wilson will present members of the Alexandria Community Services Board (CSB) with a proclamation for 50 years of community service and support.” [Press Release]