New McLean police captain settles in

Fairfax County police Capt. Alan Hanson is commander of the McLean District Station. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

The Fairfax County Police Department’s McLean District Station recorded slightly higher crime rates last year, and its commander said the station’s officers will keep working to improve pedestrian and driver safety and reduce crime, especially in rapidly growing Tysons and Merrifield.

The station’s 2018 annual report, the only one of its kind among the county’s eight district police stations, is designed to “keep the community informed about the totality of what we do,” said Capt Alan Hanson.

The report features statistics on a wide range of incident types encountered by the station’s officers last year, plus the number of calls, by category, that each officer responded to.

Station personnel in 2018 investigated 1,017 crimes against persons (up from 954) the previous year. These included 953 assaults (up from 921 in 2017), three homicides (up from two), 23 kidnapping/abduction cases (up from eight), 37 forcible-sex offenses (up from 27) and one non-forcible-sex case (down from two).

Simple assaults accounted for 85 percent of the station’s assault tally last year. Thirty-nine of those cases were assaults on officers, an increase of more than half from the 25 instances recorded in 2017.

The station last year also handled 4,583 crimes-against-property cases, up from 4,451 in 2017. These included 162 robbery/breaking-and-entering cases (up from 153 in 2017), 40 embezzlement cases (down from 75), 2,893 larcenies (up from 2,746) and 35 robberies (down from 44).

Most larcenies investigated in 2018 by the station’s officers concerned shoplifting incidents. Such cases at hardware stores jumped from three to 19, while ones at department and discount stores rose more than half from 252 to 382. The station investigated 30 more thefts from motor vehicles last year. While there were 244 larcenies from buildings (down 16 from the previous year), thefts occurring at gyms nearly tripled from eight in 2017 to 23 last year.

“We’ve been fortunate that our burglary-closure rate has been very high,” Hanson said, citing arrests for thefts at Tysons auto dealerships.

The station received 65,131 calls for service last year, an increase of 1 percent. This included 9,336 calls for criminal cases (down 242 from 2017), 25,101 traffic cases (down 879) and 30,694 other service calls (up 1,769). Station personnel in 2018 fielded 11,985 suspicious-event calls (up 18.5 percent from the previous year) and 277 overdose-related events up 277.

Regarding traffic violations in 2018, far and away the most instances (1,112) occurred when drivers did not pay full time and attention. The next most common violations were failure to obey lawfully erected signs (648 instances); operating vehicles that were unregistered, lacked titles or did not have license plates (516); speeding (293); failure to obey traffic lights (209); and driving without a license (26).

Traffic remains one of the biggest challenges, with officers regularly enforcing speed limits and don’t-block-the-box restrictions at intersections. Station leaders also are discouraging children from crossing Georgetown Pike, especially at Douglass Drive.

McLean District Station personnel recently met with Falls Church residents living near Shreve Road, where a female pedestrian on a pathway was killed in early August by a man driving a stolen truck. Improving the design of long-established roads is a priority, Hanson said.

“These old farm roads are becoming major commuter arteries,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out a solution to move people while still maintaining the safety and pedestrian-friendliness of the communities, which is becoming a challenge.”

In addition, the station’s officers are preparing for upcoming local festivals and ramping up for the Christmas Anti-Theft Team, which concentrates its efforts in shopping areas.

The McLean station has 136 sworn officers, eight sworn auxiliary-police officers and more than 20 non-sworn employees, including police citizen aides, Volunteers in Police Service, crossing guards, a victim-services specialist, crime analyst, chaplain, administrative assistant and logistics technician.

The station’s coverage area encompasses 44.22 square miles of land and 709 miles of roadway. The service zone is bounded roughly by Towlston Road, the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail and the Vienna town line in the west; Arlington Boulevard to the south; the Falls Church and Arlington County boundaries to the east; and Potomac River to the north.

The station’s coverage area will have an estimated population of 172,910 in 2020, up 16 percent since 2015, according to the report. By 2030, officials estimate the district’s population will be 210,962 (up 41.5 percent from 2015) and by 2040 will rise to 241,312 (up 61.8 percent from 2015).

Much of that growth will come from Tysons, where officials predict the population will be 34,843 in 2020, 66,945 in 2030 and 90,985 in 2040.

County police will open the new South County District Station in early 2023, and department officials already have begun how to alter district borders to even out the distribution of officers, Hanson said.

Patrick Smaldore, chairman of the McLean District Station Citizens Advisory Committee and the McLean Citizens Association’s public-safety liaison, said the report is “very well-organized and gives a good qualifiable and quantifiable representation of the law-enforcement challenges” at the station.

Smaldore helped the station’s community-outreach officer in 2015 and 2016 to compile statistics and information for the station’s first annual report. While Fairfax County police produce a county-wide annual report each year, McLean is the only district station that does its own report, he said.

Residents can use the report’s information to understand the nature of offenses occurring in their neighborhoods and start a dialogue with the station’s officers and leadership, Smaldore said.

Residents living within the station’s coverage zone “need to understand what police-service areas and patrol areas they live in [so they can] see the kinds criminal, service and traffic issues that occur in and around their neighborhoods and communities,” he said.

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