I am writing as a concerned citizen who has lived in Vienna for close to 16 years now. My family lives on Old Courthouse Road, a multi-jurisdictional street/community. Multi-jurisdictional street/community is when your address, depending on the political boundaries, will determine which police station will respond to your emergency services and police assistance or inquiries – on Old Courthouse Road, it will either be Town of Vienna Police or Fairfax County Police.
On 2 January 2013 around 7:15 p.m., I was preparing dinner for my family and we noticed a helicopter which passed our community. I usually do not bother calling the police because the experience is brief. But with the inert grenade scare that same morning and the young man from Gainesville found dead in Vienna, many of us in Vienna are concerned about these circumstances. In addition, we were still hearing the helicopter passing back and forth the community until about 845pm. I called Town of Vienna Police to inquire if there was some type of incident for these helicopters to be hovering above Old Courthouse Road for about 1.5hrs. The Town of Vienna Police dispatcher told me that they were not aware of anything and she told me to call Fairfax County Police in Mclean.
I called Fairfax County Police and the dispatcher responded that they are looking for a "suspect". I asked if it has something to do with the grenade/bomb incident earlier that day and she said "no". I mentioned to the dispatcher that there is nothing on TV, websites, news alerts; there was no mention of a "suspect" loose in Vienna. I asked her if we should be concerned and she said "is your door locked? make sure your door is locked, if anyone knocks on your door, do not open it", this is at 915pm -- actually quite early in the evening. We are a very active group in this community. My neighbors will tell you that if I baked cookies or cake, I usually knock on their doors to share them and vice versa. Many of us run errands and you can still see people walk their dogs about that time. The Fairfax County Police dispatcher was very helpful but she really could not tell me too much information and she kept reiterating to make sure "not to open the door for anyone". The community should be alerted about safety concerns. Once I hung up with her I called Town of Vienna Police again and told the dispatcher I spoke with earlier that night about this "suspect" Fairfax County Police is looking for and she said Town of Vienna Police is not aware of anything.
We need an opt-in safety alert system either by mobile phone or internet which is coordinated communications by Town of Vienna Police and Fairfax County Police to notify residents of Vienna especially residents close to Tysons if there is something that endangers the safety of our communities. With Tysons metro opening next year and all the construction in Tysons, there is so much movement in this area especially our community and I do not believe it will subside any time soon. We have to have a system that will alert citizens of safety issues. This is a community of young families with many young children. The cost is minimal for such an investment and the benefits will outweigh the initial output.
When my family moved to Vienna 16 years ago, most of my neighbors were original owners; we were one of the youngest people on our street; traffic was 1,200 cars on a weekly basis; the most exciting news was a new coffee shop opening on Maple Avenue.
Fast forward to 2013, our community is experiencing gentrification; we are no longer the youngest family in the community; more than 13,000 cars pass our street on a daily basis; and the news, well, alarming to say the least.
The definition of “change” is a transformation or transition from one state, condition, or phase to another. Change can be good or bad, it can be exciting but one thing is certain and crucial, safety should always come first and foremost.
Do you think there should be coordination between jurisdictions for safety alerts? Tell us in the comments.