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Two-year surge has city responders working overtime ¢  18-05-2017 ¢  admissions other than pregnant

Jun 26, 2020




  • TimesAlexandria Vol. 14, No. 20 Alexandria’s only independent hometown newspaper MAY 18, 2017

    New ordinance requires residents to obtain permits for parking longer than three days


    The Alexandria City Coun- cil approved an amendment to the city’s contentious 72-hour parking rule at a public hearing at city hall on May 13.

    The plan creates a travel per- mit system for one year, which will be managed by the Alex- andria Transportation Division

    and the Alexandria Police De- partment, and allows residents to electronically register to park on city streets for up to 28 days. The parking rule is in effect now and city council will revisit its efficacy in Nov. 2018.

    “Parking is a quality of life issue,” Alexandria Mayor Al- lison Silberberg said. “In my own neighborhood of Parkfair- fax, sometimes people park and leave a car for a while, and we have very limited parking, just like Old Town.”

    The new citywide rule

    would allow residents to apply for a 14-day parking exemp- tion four times per year. Drivers would have to apply two weeks before leaving town and park within an eighth of a mile from their home. Staff recommended that no more than two contig- uous exemptions be granted, meaning that a vehicle could potentially be parked on-street in the same location for up to 28 days.

    The 72-hour parking rule


    Alexandria is feeling the po- tent effects of the national opioid epidemic, with a sharp increase in the past two years in the num- ber of overdoses coupled with a shortage of treatment options for those addicted to heroin and synthetic opioids.

    As the problem becomes more lethal in Alexandria, the Alexandria Police Department is investing its resources into

    fighting back. Though arrests for opioids are up, city police are focusing less on users and more on arresting those who are supplying the drugs.

    For Lieutenant Michael Kochis, commander of the po- lice department’s vice and nar- cotics section, his experience on the frontlines of fighting the rise of opioids in Alexandria has been eye opening.

    “It’s been keeping us busy,” Kochis said. “I think

    over the past year... the detectives in my unit probably now have a different perspective

    on heroin users. I know I have. I didn’t necessarily

    understand why someone would do that to themselves, but then

    when you start seeing and speak- ing to these folks, they

    are legitimately sick and they can’t stop.”

    Opioid use Forty-four Alexandria res-

    idents died due to opioid over- doses between 2012 and 2016, according to statistics from the city’s health department. The number of Alexandria residents treated for opioid overdoses in regional hospitals jumped to 105 in 2016, up from 88 overdoses in 2015. So far in 2017, there have been 41 Alexandrians treated for opioid overdoses in emer-

    gency rooms, and if the trend continues, the city is on track to have an all time high of 123 overdoses by the end of the year.

    Unfortunately, concurrent with Alexandria’s spike in over- doses is a downturn in available treatment options due to staff- ing shortages in the city’s opioid treatment facilities. City spokes- man Craig Fifer said during both FY16 and FY17, the treatment program was closed for new admissions other than pregnant women for extended periods of time. In addition, 26 percent more addicts in the city’s overall substance abuse treatment pro- grams in 2016 admitted to using opioids than in 2015.

    “For us that’s alarming be- cause every single one of those

    Two-year surge has city responders working overtime

    City Council approves 72-hour parking rule exemption


    SEE DRUGS | 6



    CHALK MASTERPIECE One of the many chalk art works that lined the sidewalks on Mount Vernon Avenue after Sunday’s La Bella Strada, an Italian street painting festival. This chalk art piece was done by Alexan- dria resident Kim Douglass and sponsored by Del Ray Cafe.





    Alexandria is not immune to the nationwide opioid epidemic, as overdoses and arrests have grown exponentially here in the past two years, while treatment options have dwindled due to staffing shortages. This multi-part series examines various facets of the crisis, from statistics to stories of Alexandrians affected by the opioid scourge.

  • 2 |MAY 18, 2017 ALEXANDRIA TIMES

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    Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., visited Alexandria on Mon- day to take part in a round- table discussion concerning gang violence in Northern Virginia.

    Kaine made his visit as the 2018 federal budget makes its way through Congress that could impact the operating budgets of law enforcement, schools and nonprofits work- ing to fight gang violence. He joined Mayor Allison Sil- berberg, as well as officials from Alexandria City Pub- lic Schools, Alexandria Po- lice Department, Alexandria Recreation, Parks & Cultural Amenities, Fairfax County Public Schools and the Fair- fax Police Department at the roundtable meeting.

    “I don’t think we’re hap- py with the progress we’re making,” Kaine said at the beginning of the meeting be- fore opening the floor to those gathered.

    Officials had varying per- spectives on the threat of gang violence and how to combat it in the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County and across Northern Virginia.

    David Wynne, a social worker at the International Academy at T.C. Williams High School, said change comes through meaningful interaction between adults and youth that are at risk of joining gangs.

    “There is no magic pro- gram,” Wynne said. “It starts with adults spending quality time with kids.”

    Other officials pointed to after-school programs, week- end soccer games and mentor- ing and tutoring programs.

    Mac Slover, regional pro- gram director in the city’s recreation services office, said the city’s parks and rec- reational spaces “bridge the gap” between school and home by providing a place for students to go when they’