April Membership Meeting Minutes

Del Ray Citizens Association Meeting Minutes

April 14, 2014 @ 7:30pm

Association President Bill Hendrick called the April general membership meeting to order at 7:37pm.

Meeting Agenda:

  • Announcements
  • Police Report
  • Chief of Police Earl Cook

First, announcements were given:

Del Ray Artisans has a new exhibit – Revolution: Art & Technology – April 4-27 – deals with artists relationships with technology.

Lisa provided an update on the House & Garden Tour, which is Saturday, May 10th. Tickets are available online and in person ($20) and are also available at Del Ray Variety, 1st Thursdays, Farmers Market and at Big Flea. Docents get a free ticket for 2 volunteer hours. 40 tickets sold (last year 80 pre-ticket sales). At the end of April, tickets increase $5.00.

She also reported on the Land Use Committee Meeting. The 7-11 on Mt. Vernon request to go 24 hours and noted that all other 7-11s in city are 24 hours. The committee voted to support the request but zoning code may not allow it. The Rte. 1 Oakville Triangle Representative was selected, 3 total applicants presented. Ben Flood voted to represent, will attend all meetings and report back. Any representative from association is allowed to attend meetings. There were no updates on 2309 Mt. Vernon Ave restaurant. She mentioned that Eclectic Nature is switching owners and would like to extend hours. The next Land Use Committee Meeting: meeting May 13.

First Thursdays will begin May 1st with the Dogs in Del Ray event from 6-9 pm on Mt. Vernon Ave.

Bill introduced Bill Snyder, chair of Adopt a Park committee for updates. New volunteers are needed for the spring and new season! DRCA handles several parks in the city, and last year we got notice that we’ve earned $4,009. He reviewed and discussed the status of the myriad parks the DRCA helps to maintain and stressed the need for DRCA members to volunteer and help lead.

Bill then discussed the fact that elections for DRCA board officers are coming up in June. 4 of the current board would like to stay on. Bill cannot serve more than 2 terms in a row and his 2nd term will be up in June. Looking for new board members to fill open positions. A nominations and bylaws committee was suggested.

Police Report was given by Captain Scott Ogden. Part I crime stats for the DRCA area for this time this year vs last: -39% under in crime (great news – lowest crime rate he has seen).

Captain Ogden reminded attendees of the upcoming Police exams regularly administered for the police department. Always in the process of looking for new police officers. Next testing date is April 24th and May 13th – two times per day. Advise friends and family – good benefits, health plan, retirement plan. http://alexandriava.gov/Police

Bill introduced Chief of Police Earl Cook as the special guest for the evening. Bill reviewed the questions he had posed to Chief Cook in advance. The Chief began by commenting on the need for recruitment. Goal is to replenish the officers who are leaving – pace of retirement is quite high currently, turn over rate went from 2.1-2 to 2.7-8 (losing 2-3 officers per month).

What has changed in the last 10 years? Common crimes still exist but have been lessened to make Alexandria much safer – but the real change has been in technology. White-collar crime is the most exploding crime in the US and in Alexandria. Department is trying to keep up with the pace. White-collar crime includes fraud or internet use to exploit another person – targeting of seniors/elders in scams, child exploitation, banking theft. So prevalent, complex and far-reaching they can barely scratch the surface. Gang activity – estimated 150-200 (fluid number) gang members living here but majority of crimes not occurring in the city, they just live here – only 7-8 gang-related crimes in past few years. NOVA Gang Task Force as a resource. MS-13 is prevailing gang, some Bloods and some Crips.

Bill asked about area drug use: Heroine coming in is extremely potent and causing a lot of deaths by overdosing. In the city, not a heroine problem. There are users in DC who use the city’s clinics. Hits for heroine are very cheap right now – driven by people whoa re looking for quick cash. Marijuana still an issue, they are trying to target the dealers. A lot is being shipped by UPS and mail services. Cases of people stealing prescription drugs. Drug take-back day scheduled by the DA for old prescriptions drugs. Crystal meth depends on region – has not been a huge problem in our area, but worse in rural areas.

He then discussed how city budget cuts have impacted the PD. The PD has had to produce a reduction budget and have lost personnel and officers due to recession. Specialized units were create in the past based on grant programs – these resources they’ve had to cut back. Police Academy was lost due to budget cuts. Crime prevention office is now only 1 person (used to be 9 in the 90s) – they used to run the Police Academy and many other programs but have been cut back. Citizen’s Academy is run again 2 times per year for 14 weeks and is now thriving – 10 week commitment. Learn what the PD is all about and is a great way to see the ins and outs of the PD.

Are there areas of the city that require more officers? The chief discussed the strategic response system they use to deploy in the city as needed. No one frequently staffed area of the city – crime analysis unit meets regularly to determine focus areas and they move resources accordingly. Regional PD cooperation – many task forces work together across NOVA cities. Communication helps to stem cross-jurisdiction crimes like bike and car thefts.

What type of surveillance methods is the PD using and how? A lot of crime is solved through forensics – DNA is handled through Sheriff’s office. Immeasurably important to be able to collect DNA to catch criminals. License plate readers is controversial – currently legal & accessible and used by Alexandria. They use it for criminal purposes to try to solve crime. Tag, location & date and time. Unless they need the information, they don’t store it – not kept longer than 6 months. Aerial surveillance not used, they are allowed to use helicopters (Fairfax) for an active crime if needed. No drones.

He provided an update on the recent homicides. Mr. Severance is a person they are trying to look at as it relates to the crimes. Alexandria PD has not had a conversation with him yet – they have not determined that there is a connection and have not ruled out that someone else is involved. They do not want to rule anything out at this stage, still looking at other areas and not trying to limit just to Severance. Other leads they are still working. Over 1600 leads since most recent homicide. The two murders have not yet been connected. Ballistics indicted the crimes could have been committed with similar type of weapon, but no connection has been confirmed.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 pm. 

Thank you for reading this far! Please feel free to send meeting minute comments/feedback to [email protected]

3 thoughts on “April Membership Meeting Minutes”

  1. Correction to April meeting minutes: DRCA’s Adopt A Park coordinator is Jim Snyder, not Bill Snyder.

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