Mount Vernon Police District CAC participation helps community get safer street
It was at a February 2023 meeting of the Mount Vernon Police District Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that a fortuitous connection was made.
Officer Max DeAvies, the then-traffic enforcement officer at the Mount Vernon District Station, was the guest speaker of the evening, chatting with local residents about sticky issues like trucks parked along the shoulder of Richmond Highway.
For a couple of community members from the Mount Vernon Square Townhouses in Hybla Valley, the truck parking issue struck a chord. For many months, truck cabs and other vehicles had been parking along both sides of Arlington Drive near the 7-Eleven and Mount Vernon Square Apartments, significantly impeding visibility for drivers trying to exit the shopping centers and apartment community.
Attempts by residents to get help from the Virginia Department of Transportation had been unsuccessful. Although an engineer stopped by to take some measurements, he found that everything was within specs, according to a community member. Appeals to VDOT by the townhome association and other officials didn’t seem to change the situation.
But when DeAvies heard about residents’ safety concerns at the CAC meeting, he promised to take action.
DeAvies “started the ball rolling,” said one of the CAC attendees who has been living in the area since 1974. Within just a few months, “No Parking” signs popped up along Arlington Drive, significantly improving visibility for motorists. Violators of the parking ban can be reported to the police non-emergency number and ticketed.
The roadway change has brought tremendous relief to the two women who originally brought the problem to DeAvies’ attention. One of them delivered doughnuts and lemonade to the Mount Vernon District Station this summer as a gesture of gratitude.
“We’re very grateful that it’s much safer now,” said SJ, a 20-year resident of the townhouse community.
Her fellow CAC attendee and neighbor agrees that she’s “much happier” about the situation now, attributing their success in getting their townhouse community’s voice heard through their involvement in the CAC.
“No one knew we were back here,” she said regarding their residential community’s tucked-away location off Arlington Drive. “Participating is important to being noticed and getting stuff done.”
The townhome residents shared their success story at the Mount Vernon Police District CAC’s Sept. 14 meeting, which was attended by new station commander Capt. Marc Mitchell and new community outreach officer MPO Jon Kaminski. CAC leaders hope to hear many more such stories in coming months.
“It’s an example of the CAC goals of hearing from residents, bringing to bear county and particularly police resources, acknowledging progress and looking on to the next challenge,” said Steve Vanni, chair of the CAC’s executive committee.
Residents of the Mount Vernon Police District are invited to attend future meetings, said Vanni. To get on the email distribution list, he recommends sending a message to email@example.com. While most CAC meetings take place at the Mount Vernon District Station, the Oct. 12 meeting will take place at Martha Washington Library, 6614 Fort Hunt Road at 7 p.m. The CAC is also looking for volunteers to help set up or donate a dish for a Thanksgiving Day meal for officers at the Mount Vernon District Station.