With massive redevelopment on the horizon, Fairfax County officials are starting to imagine ways to step up the police presence in the area — including where to build a brand new police station.
The first phase of the Silver Line is expected to open at the end of 2013, and while it will help drive the county’s economy, it will also bring crime, says Fairfax County Police Captain Daniel Janickey, an officer in the McLean District Station.
Janickey says the county needs to prepare for increases in robberies, assault, theft, property destruction and stolen vehicles, as well as a rise in illegal parking and traffic accidents.
In order to effectively enforce the law and deter criminals from coming to Northern Virginia, Janickey recommended supervisors consider a total of 33 new positions in the McLean district, including 24 patrol officers and an additional parking enforcement officer. At the very least, Janickey said it was “critical” that McLean District Station get more officers by early 2014.
And as Tysons continues to redevelop, a need for its own police station will become inevitable, he said.
The county of 1.1 million and growing is now policed by eight district stations, who report to the department's headquarters in Fairfax City. In FY2013, the county budgeted more than $102 million for the department's patrol sector, comprising 1,134 positions.
The McLean station is currently staffed by 132 officers and 28 staff members, according to the district website.
The area around the Tysons Corner Mall – which sees millions of visitors a month – is already the McLean station’s most heavily patrolled area, Janickey said. Currently, two units cover the area four days a week, but the Silver Line will bring an immediate need for seven-day coverage, he said.
The McLean station, which also handles the Merrifield and the new Mosaic district 3 miles south, will become overwhelmed.
“At the end of the day, the McLean Station cannot handle the need going forward,” said David Rohrer, the county's former police chief who now serves as the deputy county executive for public safety.
A New Station
A new Tysons station located in a mixed-use development – potentially co-located with an office building – would be a viable option in the county’s vision for a walkable, urban downtown, said Teresa Lepe, the department of public works’ building design chief.
In order for the station to be completely effective, it would need to be located near major thoroughfares and have two entrances to the parking structure. A single entrance would make the facility vulnerable to snipers or other attacks, Lepe said.
Such a station would undoubtedly be expensive. Consultants recommended separate staircases for transporting suspects and isolating mechanical systems and vents.
A two-story station could be anywhere from 1.5 to 3.6 acres, Lepe said, depending on parking and fueling facilities.
The McLean District Station is 4.45 acres.
Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) seriously questioned the need for such a costly endeavor.
“You just described a very expensive building … Why do you feel the need for such a significant investment?” he said.
While the timeline of putting a station in place was not immediately available, officials said that 25 years from now, a station would definitely be necessary.
“We’re going to need another station,” Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) said. “The question isn’t whether, it’s when.”