Andy Wyczlinski, community relations officer at the Groveton District station.
The patrolmen's responsibility for Groveton goes from Alexandria, south to Ft. Belvoir and Rose Hill and east to the river. The community relations program in Fairfax County started approximately in 1969. My work is different from normal police work. Community relations maintains liaison with civic organizations and businesses. We provide speakers to the various organizations to talk about crime prevention subjects and we try to be available for the students who feel they have problems.
There's more to law enforcement than just arresting people. Social problems must be taken into consideration. Police aren't paid solely to preserve and protect the tranquility and quality of life; we are paid to assist the citizens in maintaining their own quality and peace and tranquility in the community. The Police Department alone cannot do the job of law enforcement, it's a joint effort between the residents of the area and the Police Department - both.
Hollin Hills has been one of the highest areas for burglary. The Groveton area has no more problems than any other area.
Groveton community is the oldest in our area. We have a problem of homes decaying, therefore the quality of life is decaying which, in some instances creates a crime problem. People may be stealing to provide the necessities. But basically Groveton is a well-established community. It has one of the highest number of cases but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a high crime area. Generally speaking, a lot of the complaints in the Groveton area are of minor nature. Such as drunks, disorderly conduct because of the nature of Route 1. Another thing that causes some of the problems is the location of Ft. Belvoir. The rest of Fairfax County doesn't have a military base close to it. Crime wise I'd say it has a great number of complaints compared to any other area, however they are of minor nature. Drunks, barking dogs complaints, vandalism, things of this nature. We still have our share of violent crimes down here, but if its any more than other areas, I couldn't really say.
We have a problem youth-wise in burglary. The majority of burglaries committed in this area and Fairfax County are committed in the daytime, and the majority of crimes are committed by juveniles. The rate of continuing burglary is tremendous. Generally speaking if we apprehend a juvenile for one burglary, we are going to clear from one to may 30 additional ones he was involved in. It's a problem, but we have to deal wit it in a number of ways. It takes effort on the part of all areas of the Criminal Justice system and parents’ involvement.
I think it's appropriate to get to know the juveniles. It's important that the kids know that I'm still a policeman and policemen still have a job to do. Whether teenagers like the laws on the books or not is a question that has to be raised with legislators, not the police. The police are out here to do a job I believe the majority of teenagers know what's right and wrong.
I'd like to see an increased emphasis on crime prevention as opposed to detection and apprehension. Apprehension, of course, is essential so the police function; however, we cannot apprehend all the criminals. I think when we consider detection and apprehension, we place it to the crimes against property such as burglary, auto larceny, general larceny. All these things can be replaced. When you're discussing, murder, robbery or rape, there's no way the Police Department can return a person's life, even if they can detect and apprehend the perpetrator.
No one wants an increase in crime, but you have to expect it because of all the social reasons, the exit from the cities, everyone's moving out to Fairfax from D. C. D. C. has increased the size of its police force to an excess of 5,000 men, so that displaces the criminals. What I'm trying to say is there's no way that we're going to stop crime. Crime prevention is not total prevention of crime -there's no way.
To me it's rewarding to see kids come up and call me by my first name There I think, well, I've established something with this kid. He's not calling me a pig. If I can get a young person to come up to me and "Hey, Andy, How you doing?" or recognize me no matter what I'm dressed in, and say, "I'll give you a hand with this or that," I think that's a reward in itself.
We had a barricaded person in a house and some officers, myself included, had to go in and take the person out of this room where he was barricaded with his wife and little child and he had a gun. When we went in, one of the officers dropped his own gun. There were a number of black subjects standing around, the other gun went sliding across the floor. Well, I think a number of years ago in any community that was against police, those guns would have been gone. But the two weapons were picked up by one of the people there who said, "Officer, I believe this is your gun, and this is the gun the other guy used." The people assisted us with that. The fact that we are getting cooperation from communities --I think that's a reward and a benefit. If you can gain the support and respect of communities that were previously against the police, I think you've accomplished your job.