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Man arrested after impersonating a police officer

Shawn Robinson was arrested yesterday morning, after impersonating a police officer, following an individual in a white Crown Victoria in Dumfries.

More in a police press release:

On January 29th at 12:58AM, officers responded to investigate a suspicious vehicle which was reportedly last seen in the area of Cliffview Dr and Waterway Dr in Dumfries (22025).The caller, an off-duty police officer, reported to police that he was driving on Benita Fitzgerald Dr when he observed a white Crown Victoria following him.

While the vehicle was behind the caller, the driver turned on a spotlight which was affixed to the vehicle. The caller believed the other vehicle was a police officer and promptly pulled over. The driver of the Crown Victoria never exited the vehicle but instead, pulled alongside the caller and attempted to make contact. At the point, the caller identified himself as an actual police officer which caused the other driver to immediately speed away.

The caller was able to provide police with a tag number and followed the vehicle to the area above where the driver and a passenger fled on foot. During the investigation, officers were able to identify the driver as the accused and obtained a warrant for his arrest. The accused turned himself into police later that same day without incident.

Arrested on January 29th: Shawn Michael ROBINSON, 27, of 3408 Beechcraft Dr in Alexandria
Charged with impersonating a police officer
Court date: March 4, 2015 | Bond: unavailable

Charges stand for police dog bite victim, friends call her a leader

Breanna Beasley spoke fondly of the fun times she had with her long-time friend London Colvin. “She can eat. We used to have eating contests so we could see who could eat more,” Beasley said.

“She loves to dance. Any kind of you music you put on, and she’s literally out there [dancing],” added Beasley.

Colvin, of Woodbridge, was captain of the step team at Woodbridge Senior High School her senior year, and played a leadership role in the school’s JROTC.

Beasley was surprised to hear of Colvin’s arrest, stating that she was never one to act out or get into trouble.

“She wasn’t a big trouble maker in school. I really followed behind her steps. I stayed out of trouble thanks to her,” Beasley said.

London Colvin is a 21-year old Army Reservist and Norfolk State University student, who was attacked by a Norfolk police dog on Sunday. Colvin has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to Norfolk Police.

 

Norfolk Police Chief confirmed “unreasonable force” used

Yesterday Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith posted a media release, claiming that an investigation into the incident with Colvin’s arrest showed that “unreasonable” force had been used.

Goldsmith released the following statement:

“Since January 25th, my department has been investigating the arrest of London Colvin. While we continue to wrap up the final few interviews with witnesses and officers, I feel I have enough information to determine the use of force in Ms. Colvin’s arrest was unreasonable.

I will address my officers’ actions through our disciplinary process.

My review of the policies governing the use of police canines continue. This review will ensure that Norfolk canines are used appropriately in all circumstances. As Chief, I am responsible for the policies and procedures that govern my officers’ actions. While I expect my officers to make the best judgment in all circumstances, if the policy doesn’t support the outcomes I expect, I have failed them. I am committed to having the best trained department and I will make this right.

I will make the revised policy available once I have completed my review.”

The canine officer involved in the altercation was placed on administrative duty while the incident is being investigated. His name was not released and no further details were given. Colvin’s charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest still stand.

Friends and family of Colvin appreciated Goldsmith’s statement.

“It really took a weight off my chest. I know that without that being said, that it was going to be a lot of extra work done [to tell] the public, and get them to notice that this wasn’t right,” said Carman Chatman, a Norfolk State University (NSU) student and friend of Colvin who witnessed the attack on Sunday.

“I spoke with some of her friends [at NSU] and everybody is really happy – this is a great first step in getting justice. It was nice to hear what [Goldsmith] said,” said Whitney Dunn, Colvin’s cousin.

However, Dunn is still seeking answers.

“Those [charges] are still being filed, and personally…to me, it’s very important that we get these charges dropped, and that that’s part of the justice. I would like to know what happens to the police officers as well, because that was not stated during the press conference [held by the Norfolk Police Department]. This shouldn’t happen in 2015,” Dunn stated.

 

NAACP steps in to handle case 

While the Norfolk Police Department continues their own internal investigation, representatives from the Norfolk branch of the NAACP have stepped in.

According to Rick James, Chairman of the Legal Redress team for Norfolk’s NAACP, their investigation into the incident also confirmed that unnecessary force had been used against Colvin.

“…the information that we’ve gotten from our investigation agreed with the chief – that the actions of the canine officer was a violation of her 4th Amendment right,” James said.

Norfolk’s NAACP office hopes to have the incident resolved within the next couple of days, said James.

James said that there needs to be more transparency and training within the police department, in order to make sure that things do like this do not happen in the future.

“We’re going to make sure that all of the officers clearly understand what they can and cannot do with certain people. And with the system, as a whole, that when they’re confronted with certain situations, to make sure that they don’t overreact. We don’t expect officers to be perfect in their daily activities– but their actions do need to be reasonable,” James said.

The NAACP has not said if they will handle her legal defense if the pending charges do proceed.

 

Protests

Several friends of Colvin stood outside of Woodbridge Senior High School this morning, holding signs and wearing t-shirts displaying the trending “#justiceforlondon” hashtag as an act of support.

In addition to this protest, another will be held at NSU this evening at the Douglas Wilder building at 8p.m., following a speaker series that will include the attorneys from the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases, according to commenters on Instagram.

Chatman stated that the protest should remain peaceful, and that the chief’s words have gone a long way to help their cause in seeking justice.

“Me and my friends here at school are trying to promote and we’re not trying to necessarily protest now, but get the word out there that justice is needed, and we have a bit of that satisfaction now. We’re so happy that what we wanted most – is for her and the people to know that she didn’t deserve [the attack] and that it was excessive,” Chatman said. 

Tenisha Williams, another NSU student and friend of Colvin who helped to organize the protest also reiterated that it is going to remain a peaceful protest.

 

Next steps for Colvin family

While the Colvin family is still dealing with the pending charges, their primary focus is seeing that Colvin gets the medical care that she needs for the extensive wounds that she received in the police dog attack, including plastic surgery to close an open wound on her leg.

“London still needs her wounds cared for, and that’s part of the mission right now. We’re trying to make sure that all of that can get taken care of,” Dunn stated. 

Dunn said she was grateful for the multitude of people that spoke out in support of Colvin on social media. “I think that’s how we feel – ‘Thank you everyone for sharing.’ For sharing and reposting [the story] so that it could get awareness, so that this could happen,” Dunn commented.

In order to help alleviate some of the financial burden that has been placed on the family to obtain medical care, Dunn has set up a fundraising page where people can donate to Colvin. 

Potomac Local has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Norfolk, requesting court documents in connection to this case.

 

Potomac Local Wants You To Know

Marine Corps Museum at Quantico ready for MRE cook-off

In the field, most Marines consider MRE’s required sustenance. At the National Museum of the Marine Corps, they’re practically gourmet.

The museum at Quantico will hold “Meals Ready to Eat” (MRE) Cook-off on Feb. 7. They started this event three years ago in order to draw more attention to the Museum during the cold winter months.

“We’re always looking for new and interesting things to offer here at the Museum, especially during the slower winter months. Michele Flynn, our Visitor Services Chief, came up with this idea. With cooking reality shows being such a big hit and MREs being such a big part of military life, it is a natural fit for us” said museum spokeswoman Gwenn Adams.

Participants in this event randomly draw two MREs from a box. Participants are allowed to dress up their meal by bringing any additional ingredients they would like to have with them during the event. However, it’s essential that it fits in a gallon sized bag, as glass containers are not allowed.

The gallon bag is important to the Museum because it’s the volume of the utility uniform’s cargo pocket which is where Marines store everything that they need to go into the field. The Museum is supplying a can of sterno as well as a folding sterno camp stove to assist in the process of cooking the entrées.

“Some examples of MRE packs are Beef Patty with Jalapeño Pepper Jack, and Southwest Style Chicken Stew. Each package usually included an entrée, a side, a dessert and a drink powder” said Adams.

The event starts at noon and is free attend. All museum-sponsored events are open to the public. For more information, email Michele Flynn at, Michele.r.flynn@usmc.mil.

 

Woodbridge protestors want action in police dog bite case

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Former Woodbridge Senior High School students and friends of London Colvin gathered in front of the school this morning on Old Bridge Road, protesting the recent incident where the 21-year old was attacked by a police dog in Norfolk

Just a day after Norfolk Police Chief  Michael Goldsmith came forward and stated that the amount of force used against Colvin was unreasonable, the protest signals a larger sentiment in the community that justice needs to be served for the Army Reservist and Norfolk State University student. 

J’quante McGhee and Breanna Beasley, long time friends of Colvin, were the main organizers of this morning’s protest.

“I feel like what the cops did was wrong. There was unreasonable force they didn’t have to do what they did [with the dog]. They already had her where they wanted her,” McGhee said. “We need to stop the police brutality.”

“Seeing that the Chief said that the force used was unreasonable really lifted my spirits. That did make me feel a little bit better,” Beasley said.

While McGhee was happy with the chief’s words, he doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

“The [police department] needs to take further action. They need to follow up and indict the officers or whatever the case is – kick them out of the force – because they didn’t handle it properly,” McGhee commented.

In addition to signs sporting the “#justiceforlondon” hashtag, Beasley created t-shirts to wear for the protest, with the Army Reserve logo, and the Woodbridge Senior High School emblem.

“I got this made yesterday…a sign says a lot, but to me, this is not just a shirt for today. It’s a shirt that I can wear longer than today to say, ‘Okay, it’s not just something that happened today and we’re done with it.’ Me wearing this shirt is going to say it happened and we’re not forgetting and we’re not going to forget,” Beasley said.

For Beasley, the incident is something that is being echoed across the country, but now feels more personal than ever. 

“It’s been happening around the country, but the fact that it happened here, to someone [I consider my] sister is just too close to home,” Beasley commented, referencing other cases of police brutality in recent months.

Another protest will be held at Norfolk State University this evening at the Douglas Wilder building at 8p.m., following a Division of Student Affairs Speaker Series event, where commenters on Instagram have said that the lawyers for the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases will speak.

Manassas Park wants to extend school year, increased costs a concern

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Added intersessions would include college prep courses, internships, field trips

Brenda K. Foster

Foster

This week, Manassas Park City Schools held round table meetings for its community members to address concerns about the district implementing a new balanced school calendar.

The new calendar would begin August 17 and close again on June 20.  This new schedule includes week-long breaks in October and March, with the usual 10-day holiday vacation in December.  Additionally, two-week long intersessions will be added to the calendar in October and April.  Intersessions are optional for the students and would include everything from college prep courses to internships and field trips.  They would be of no additional cost to the students.

School Board Chair Brenda K. Foster said that they modeled the new calendar off of Galax City Public Schools, which successfully implemented it last year.

“I am excited about any calendar option that can help improve learning success for our students,” Foster said.  The meetings were a way to get parents and community members involved in finding solutions or ideas for potential problems that may arise with the changes.  Over the course of the three meetings, 300 people attended, a huge turnout, according to Foster.

Community members raised some concern over the changes, particularly about the effect it would have on finding childcare and the costs involved.

“I’m a little concerned about overall cost and additional effort required by the teachers to implement the sessions,” said Leeann Brogdan, a parent  

She added that she liked the concept but wasn’t sure if the execution was the best.

Another concern was how this would affect summer vacations.  The meeting participants sat around circular tables and were able to discuss their concerns with others seated at their table. Then, they listed them on flip chart paper and taped them to the wall so that everyone could share ideas and opinions.

Despite parent’s hesitation, teachers seem willing to try out the new format at the risk they’d have to work more. 

“I feel like teachers by nature are willing to do extra work to help children succeed,” said Sara Silber, a 5th-grade teacher at Cougar Elementary School in Manassas Park.

Children also supported the change.

“You can prepare for the tests and all of that, but that’s nothing compared to real-world experience,” said high school freshman Alex Petsopoulos said about the proposed intersessions.

Petsopoulos expressed excitement in the type of activities that might be available in that week.

Though he did have some reservations about the start date. 

“My birthday’s the 18th, and we start school on the 17th so that can’t happen,” Petsopoulos joked.

Foster and the rest of the school board plan on traveling to Galax City Public Schools on Feb. 11 through 13 to observe their spring intersession before the board votes on the new calendar on February 23. 

Blaze rips through Montclair home, residents displaced

Update

Firefighters searched the premises during the fire when one adult in the home was unaccounted for on Thursday night. The home was cleared, and the adult was found outside of the premises. 

One adult suffered non-serious injuries, and did not require transport.

More in a press release from the Department of Fire & Rescue:

On Thursday, January 29th, at approximately 2:00 p.m., fire and rescue units were dispatched to a structure fire in a garage located in the 15000 block of Holleyside Drive in Dumfries.

Upon arrival, firefighters observed the garage fully engulfed in flames with extension to the home’s rear, attic and roof and a second alarm was requested.

As firefighters proceeded to attack and extinguish the fire, they were informed, one occupant, an adult, had not been accounted for and possibly remained in the home. As firefighters began searching the premises, they were notified that all occupants had safely evacuated the home.

One adult incurred injuries but did not require medical transport. No additional injuries reported.

Red Cross was called to the scene to assist three adults displaced by the fire.

A Building Official inspected the residence and posted the building unsafe.

County Police assisted with traffic control.

The origin of the fire was the garage; the cause is undetermined and is currently under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Original Post

A fire ripped through a home in the 15000 block of Holleyside Drive on Thursday.

Crews were called to the home in Montclair about 2 p.m. Flames were seen shooting through the roof and a 2nd alarm was called. However, crews on the scene were able to bring the blaze under control and then put it out, negating the need for the second alarm, said Prince William fire and rescue Battalion Chief Curtis Brodie.

The residents of the house were displaced. Brodie said no major injuries were reported.

Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.

Move over 95 Express, toll lanes wanted on I-66

Dulles Metrorail Megaproject underway at Rt. 66 and 267, Falls Church.

New lanes will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week

There’s a new plan for Interstate 66 that looks a lot like what just happened on I-95.

Virginia transportation officials want to build more of those famous “managed lanes,” or toll lanes between U.S. 15 in Haymarket in Prince William to the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, just outside Tysons Corner. Two new lanes would be added to each side of the highway and, like the 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes, drivers will pay a toll 24 hours a day to use them. The new lanes would be free to drivers with three or more occupants in their vehicles.

Officials identified this 25-mile “outside the Beltway” stretch of highway as their target improvement zone because federal laws prevent I-66 from being widened inside the Capital Beltway. Arlington residents saw to that when the highway was built.

“For all of us who have ever traveled I-66, w know we have once choice: congestion. And, that congestion is getting worse,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton.

A round of winter weather forced the postponement the first few in a series presentations held to educate residents on the proposed changes. The agency held a meeting in Prince William and in Fairfax the past two nights, respectively.

After building toll lanes on the Beltway, and opening new toll lanes last month on I-95, VDOT has learned a thing or two about holding these public meetings. Display boards were set up in a large room, transportation experts posted around the room, and a court reporter made available to anyone who wanted to confess their concerns.

New commuter lots will spur slugging, officials hope

As to how the road will be built, the early favored design appears to be adding two new lanes in each direction with the lanes in the center of the highway, much like the E-ZPass Express Lanes are on the Beltway. The early favored plan also calls for the addition of new park and ride lots that would be served by a new bus rapid transit system in Prince William and Fairfax counties.

The new lots, officials hope, will spur slugging – a free, user-organized carpooling system in use on I-95 and 395 since the 1970s, and never yet implemented on I-66. Options to expand Virginia Railway Express or Metro along the corridor as part of this project don’t seem likely.

“For those asking ‘why not Metro,’ we’re not saying ‘no’ to Metro. We’re saying ‘not today,” said Hamilton.

In traffic congestion hot spots on I-66 in Fairfax County between Routes 29 and 50, a fourth auxiliary lane will be added as part of the project to allow drivers more room to merge on and off the highway.’

Land sits in the way

VDOT must take property to make this new vision for I-66 a reality. Segment one of the project between U.S. 15 in Haymarket and Route 28 in Centreville has 430 parcels of land standing in the way of development. Segment two between Routes 28 and 50 has 108, and segment three between Route 50 and the Beltway has 750 homes. About 70 families could be displaced.

The private firm, Australia-based Transurban was hired to build and maintain the E-ZPass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-95. The company also maintains the Pochohantas Parkway in Richmond.

State officials guarantee this highway expansion, like the previous two in Northern Virginia, will be a public-private partnership – a contract that will be awarded to a company that completes the state’s bidding process. Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board will meet Jan. 18 to discuss what they want in a qualified bidder for the project, and a request for proposals should go out sometime this summer.

Construction of the new lanes is slated to begin as early as 2017. The new lanes will not open before 2021.

Wintry mix possible this afternoon, tonight

A winter weather advisory is not in effect for Prince William County, as well Fairfax County . There could be some rain mixing with some sleet for commuters on their drive home from work.

Here’s what the National Weather Service says about our chances for wintry precipitation this afternoon and into tonight:

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION LESS THAN ONE INCH.
  ICE ACCUMULATION FROM A TRACE TO A FEW HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH.

* TIMING...THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING. THE BEST CHANCE FOR
  FREEZING RAIN WILL BE BETWEEN 2 PM AND 5 PM.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER 30S.

* WINDS...SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH WITH GUSTS AROUND 15 MPH.

* IMPACTS...UNTREATED ROADS AND SIDEWALKS WILL BECOME ICY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR
FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR
SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE
DRIVING.

As mentioned in the weather statement, temperatures will determine how much of any wintry mix we see tonight. 

How Prince William schools stack up, on average, for teacher pay

School teachers lined the sidewalks at Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road in Woodbridge Friday to protest a plan to freeze teacher pay rates for the next three years.

Neighboring counties pay entry-level teachers more

As the Prince William County School Board gears up for another budget cycle, it is timelier than ever to look closely at an important topic in local education – the current state of teacher pay in the county.

The average annual teacher salary, according to Jim Livingston, the Prince William Education Association president is $60,408 – a figure he pulled from a 2014 Washington Area Boards of Education  (WABE) report.  

Phil Kavits, spokesman for Prince William County Public Schools, stated that the average annual teacher salary in the county is a bit higher than Livingston’s figure at $61,525.

These averages are worth noting when considering a quick drive to the surrounding area school divisions can greatly alter the average salary that a public school teacher receives.

“The only school division that is lower in average teacher salary in the area is Manassas Park. The other [counties] are at least $2,800 to $3,000 more than us. For example, if you cross over to Fairfax County…that’s a $7,000 pay increase based on the average,” said Livingston of the county’s low pay-average.

Kavits stated teachers in nearby Fairfax County average $66,782 per year, and a Loudoun County teacher receives an average of $63,013 per year.

“The reasons that the salaries remain low, particularly at the entry level – that’s where we have the greatest difficulty – is quite frankly that our neighbor [counties] around us have simply determined that it’s in their best interest to try and attract the very best [teachers] that they can. And frankly, we’ve simply just not kept pace…” Livingston said.

The county’s School Board is facing a $20 million budget deficit. On Feb 4, it will meet to discuss some possible ways to fix the problem by proposing new cuts to the division’s billion-dollar budget. The cuts come as county leaders propose a lower tax increase of 1.3% than the original planned 4% hike in property taxes. 

Things like transportation for specialty programs at middle and high schools, and full day kindergarten in non-title one schools are all things being eyed by the School Board as items to slash from the budget.

Teacher pay raises, however, are not, according to School Board Chairman, At-large Milton C. Johns.

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series that examines public school teacher pay in Prince William County.

Popular ‘Attack the Fat Challenge’ starts Monday at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center

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Do you know about the Attack the Fat Challenge? It’s one of the most popular, effective, and fun weight-loss programs at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center
 
It’s open to anyone, at any fitness level.
 
Robin Frey is a fitness program coordinator, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and the director of Freedom Attack the Fat Challenge at Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in Manassas. We spoke with her to get the 
 
Frey

Frey

What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?

 
“It’s more of a full spectrum weight loss program and it runs for eight weeks…it’s based on focusing on weight loss but the overall effort that we do is that we want to promote and create lifestyle changes, not just during the eight weeks. For most people it’s just the starting point. A lot of people do it repeatedly because it works for them…and depending on the amount of weight they wish to lose, it may not happen in eight weeks.”   
 
What do participants do while in Attack The Fat Challenge? 
 
“Well actually the whole concept is they do train…and it’s based on percentage of weight loss…we make it a challenge so that it has some competitive edge to it but the overall focus is just to create a balance of accountability…to continue with fitness efforts for health, not necessarily for fitness. In other words, this is based on health and wellness, getting people appropriate nutrition and just trying to create a consistent effort with lifestyle change, it’s long term.”
 
 How much does the program cost?
 
“It [the program] breaks down to 20 dollars a session and the total cost is $480 but you’re getting 24 sessions, 24 full one-hour sessions…then in addition to that they get the support through nutrition tips and guidance…and body composition testing as well.” Frey also mentioned that there is an additional cost to non-members of the Freedom Center. 
 
 Attack-the-Fat-2015-flyer-791x1024How long does the challenge last? 
 
“Participants train three days a week with a trainer so it’s three one-hour sessions so they’re basically getting 24 training sessions as a group within that eight weeks, three times a week. In addition to that support that we offer is through our smart lab for evidence based testing for body composition or those types of things and also we do weekly weigh-ins”.
 
Is the Attack The Fat Challenge a seasonal program? 
 
“It’s twice a year, typically we do it  in February, March and then again in September.”
 
Is it too late to sign up? 
 
“The Attack The Fat Challenge  starts on Monday, Feb. 2. Registration does require you to be registered prior to the program but we work with people as well.”
 
Why did Frey get involved with the Attack The Fat Challenge?
 
“Well I started it, actually it’s been six years running now. I just felt that there was a need here at the Freedom Center to create programming in small groups that could be something that could bring more of an effort of accountability to each other, that tends to help. People can do training all the time but when they have other people depending on them to be part of their team, their group, it’s very successful. The success rate is much higher as far as them making the sessions, having to be responsible for that weekly weigh-in and then they bond and create groups that continue to train after that. We just didn’t have anything happening here in that capacity in programming.”
 
How does the Attack The Fat Challenge stand apart from similar programs?
 
“We were probably the original in this area. I know other facilities have programs similar to what we do, it’s a basic concept of accountability, through training, weigh-ins, and nutrition information…it’s just been very, very successful for us here. This our sixth year I believe, might even be longer. It tends to work. We provide a variety of workouts through different types of training. We may have them in the pool, TRX suspension training, circuit training, functional core…in other words we do a little bit of everything that we offer here…within those 24 sessions they’re getting a very large variety of different modalities of training.”
 
Why do people sign up?
 
Participants will] form groups and become friends and bond in that respect and want to continue to do it again, that kind of thing….plus we’ve had people that have lost over 100 pounds…it’s been very effective overall.” 

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