Residents from the surrounding neighborhoods (Beverley Hills, Hume Springs, Lynhaven, and Del Ray) joined the Arlandria neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia last night for the Alexandria Police (APD) Community meeting held at the Cora Kelly Recreation Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The neighborhoods remain uneasy following the recent homicides in Beverley Park and Four Mile Run Park, and the recent stabbing. That was very evident at last night’s turnout .
The meeting was held to try and calm fears in the neighborhood, to give concerned residents an update on where the recent investigations stand, and for police to answer questions from the community.
Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook said Police do not have a suspect in either case but, APD detectives are working very hard to resolve each case. Chief Cook mentioned that he has ordered an increased police presence in the surrounding neighborhood to try and calm fears and said APD would readjust that presence as needed.
Police answered many questions from residents who are concerned and worried about safety in the area last night. Chief Cook did announce to residents that overall crime is 2% down in 2015 in Alexandria, Virginia and that the increased reporting on crime makes it seem like there is more. The Chief mentioned preventing violent crime is number one priority for the police. Chief Cook said “Sometimes we don’t know a neighborhood needs services because people there don’t call for help. So call APD.” He reminded residents for emergency events, to call 911 – for all others, use the non-emergency number 703.746.4444 and the officer taking the call can determine the type of response needed. He took time to review what to expect from police after a call is received.
On the recent incidents, Chief Cook gave residents all of the information the department felt comfortable disclosing. He confirmed that police have determined that the incidents are not connected. Residents also asked if recent incidents were drug-related. Chief Cook mentioned that was too early to tell although he admitted drugs like heroin were on the rise in the neighborhood. Chief Cook also admitted APD detectives were pursuing the angle that the recent incidents were gang-related. Chief Cook reviewed regional efforts on gang violence and what police are doing to combat the issue. The Chief recommended to a Spanish mother that to help with gang problems in the neighborhood, teens should get involved in after-school activities. The Chief mentioned time and again about building ‘community relationships. Chief Cook said, “The police department isn’t THE solution, we are part of the solution” and reminded residents changing the tenor of community started with the community.
There were quite a few questions on police resources. The Chief mentioned, as any Police Chief would, that he could use more officers. I am told there is currently a staffing study ongoing that is reviewing the staffing resources for Alexandria Police. The Chief took several minutes to review ‘predictive policing’, the mathematical, predictive and analytical techniques in law enforcement to identify potential criminal activity.
Residents asked about calling the police. As in other community meetings, Chief Cook said “No call is too small, it’s our job to come by and check it out.” Chief Cook took a moment to remind ALL residents to be diligent & aware as Alexandria, Virginia is a dense city and an urban area and with that comes crime. “Alexandria is a safe city, it’s not a bad community to live in. The things we do TOGETHER make it safe,” said Chief Cook.