Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Neighborhood Watch Update

By Chuck Foster

Lakeport Cluster and the Upper Lake neighborhood continue to experience a low-level of reported crime compared to the wider area. One notable change over the last three months was a significant decline in reports of theft-from-auto compared with the prior three months. These incidents occurred in the area southwest of the high school. A great tool for following crime trends in the area can be found at www.crimereports.com. This site is endorsed by the FCPD crime prevention officer, Katy Defoe, at the Reston station.

Being effective at detecting, reporting, and prosecuting crime takes education, training, and, most importantly, the willingness to do it. There is a wide variety of crimes that could occur on our personal and common property and we need guardians of the community that can respond effectively. So, who is a potential guardian? Anyone who is a witness to or a victim of crime. Unfortunately, you cannot delegate these tasks. You have to be the one to engage the police. And, by taking action, you may save others from becoming future victims of the perpetrator. 

The cluster website now has a link to a document that gives you valuable knowledge to assist you in being an effective guardian. The link is on the Neighborhood Watch page of www.lakeportcluster.org, and it is titled, “Click here for more information on how to handle a crime.” Topics covered include the following:

  • If I witness a crime, what action should I take? Alternatively, if I am a victim of a property crime but not a witness, how is that properly handled? 
  • How do I report a crime?
  • Are children and adults treated differently?
  • What does the Fairfax County Code say about destruction of property and trespassing?
  • How do we ban someone from the property?

With many trained guardians in our community, we will be better partners with the police and better stewards of the community.

It is important to note that the County Code allows for a differentiation between the careless acts of children and the malicious acts of adults. For example, children vandalize property and litter. In the case of vandalism, the Code states that, for a first offense, community service is an acceptable outcome with no adjudication of guilt. Community service work, to the extent feasible, will include the repair, restoration, or replacement of the damaged property. In the case of littering, the County Code states that, in lieu of jail, the court may order the defendant to perform community service in litter abatement activities. These provisions in the Code are clear accommodations to the senseless acts of teenagers. If, in the future, you are hesitant to hold a teenager accountable for a criminal act, consider the fact that the Code anticipates seeing these kids in juvenile court.     

If you have an interest in becoming a trained guardian of our community, please contact Chuck Foster at chuckfost@aol.com. The Fairfax County Police Department is holding a training session for Neighborhood Watch volunteers on June 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The sessions will be held at the Fair Oaks District Station. If you are interested, I can show you how to register.

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