Alexandria, Virginia’s police department says it will be making several service adjustments caused by a decrease of officers on staff.
In a news release Thursday, the Alexandria Police Department said the changes include:
- Not responding to certain calls that could “fall under another agency’s role” unless requested.
- Not responding to scenes where there is no danger to the public, identifying suspects or “valuable investigative leads.”
Public Information Officer Marcel Bassett told WTOP that police receive many calls that do not require immediate, in-person police presence. One example Bassett gave was reporting credit card fraud.
“Police being there, per se, would not change the outcome of the investigation,” he said. “They’re getting all the same information, either through phone or online. They still can do all the same investigative practices.”
With the changes, an officer could help someone who may be in a “more dangerous situation,” Bassett said.
“And that’s really what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re really trying to focus the resources where they’re needed most.”
The department will provide more online and phone reporting support alongside an outreach campaign intended to “help educate the community about the changes.” Its website will also change to reflect the new adjustments.
“Even though we are making these adjustments, please know we are committed to engaging and building partnerships with all communities in Alexandria,” Chief Don Hayes said in a statement. “We will continue to actively police neighborhoods to prevent and reduce crime and always maintain operational readiness and preparedness.”
The Alexandria Committee of Police Local 5 said staffing and morale in the department were plummeting. The letter from ACP Local 5 noted that the factors have led to increased burnout among officers.
Bassett said losses in the ACP ranks had provided some challenges.
“In 2018, we had 328 sworn to date. [Now] we have 293,” Bassett said. “So over five years, that’s down 10%. That’s less resources we have to deploy.”
Police in Arlington made a similar set of changes on March 29 due to a significant reduction in officers, with Police Chief Andy Penn saying that the department still had over 40 positions to fill.
WTOP’s Sarah Jacobs and Joshua Barlow contributed to this story.