Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hume Springs Cleans Up and Teams Up With Police

The Clean-Up
On Nov 12th, several Hume Springs residents and Fire Marshall John Javelle walked the streets and alleys of Hume Springs, parts of the Cora Kelley school yard, and the portion of Four Mile Run Park that backs up to the neighborhood in search of free-range trash. Residents bagged up, or dragged to the curb, hundreds of pounds of garbage.  Many thanks to Transportation and Environmental Services for a special pick-up to haul away the offending piles of trash.

The biggest problem area was the wetland behind Mark Drive. In that area, residents topped off 20 full bags of beer and malt liquor bottles and dragged out 2 mattresses, a box spring, a bike tire, and various other junk. Based on the location of bottle caps versus disposed-of bottles, it was obvious that people were sitting on a guard rail of the alley, drinking, and throwing empty bottles into the wetlands.

Above: Plenty to clean-up in this unofficial wetlands area.

Below: Most of the trash is out of here, and with increased enforcement, perhaps it will stay this way.  Also, the clean-up team poses with the fruits of their labor.

Reducing Nuisance Crime and Getting Help To Those That Need It

The following Tuesday, at the Hume Springs Citizens Association meeting, residents informed our Community Officer of the problem drinking area. In the following two weeks, Alexandria police issued 6 citations in this area for open containers. People also were found drinking while fishing on the stream, where they often leave empty bottles behind. Alexandria Police warned everyone that they caught drinking in this location that they would check it several times each day and night. Officer Ruggiero, our Community Officer, brought many of the police that work our beat to the unofficial wetlands area so they would be aware of the problem location and treat it as an unofficial "beat check", or a place they check regularly. The goal is to curb the public drinking that has moved from place to place in Four Mile Run park and nearby areas.

This is just one example of citizen identification of a problem within Four Mile Run park. Last Spring during a Four Mile Run clean-up volunteer event and again over the summer, residents noticed evidence of habitation within the park. They reported this to the community liaison officer who began making sweeps in the problem areas of the park, including the protected wetlands area (area between Four Mile Run and the trail, not the unofficial wetlands). Police made several arrests where alcohol offenses were involved, but also linked up several homeless individuals with social services. These were people that didn't know where to go for help, and Alexandria police linked them up with the right organizations.

Community Liaison Officers
This coordination has been vital in Hume Springs and other neighborhoods where Community Liaison Officers are assigned. Citizens are key to identifying problems within the neighborhood, and these officers get to know neighbors and the lay of the land, making them extremely effective in handing both nuisance crime and catching serious offenders.  There have been rumblings that budget cuts could put these positions at risk.  We will let you know if any of this turns out to be more than rumor.  These officers are among the most effective at catching criminals and improving quality of life in our area.  They are definitely one of the essential programs within the Alexandria Police Department.

Be sure to thank your Community Liaison Officers and the rest of the officers on our beat when you see them out and about this holiday season.

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