Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Fans of old movies may remember that characters sometimes included a “cop on the beat,” who seemed to know everyone and rarely used his nightstick or weapon. The actor/officer seldom had many lines of dialogue, but appeared to gauge the rhythm of the community quite well by his mere presence. Screenwriters made the position look easy in those old flicks; in reality, it can be quite the opposite.

The movies got one thing right – officers knew their communities. In a similar vein, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis announced a new program that will bring patrol officers out of their cruisers to interact casually with community members each day. The new Integrating Police And Community (iPAC) program is a modern version of the cop on the beat and aims to strengthen communication and understanding between the officers and the communities they serve. Officers will spend a part of each day walking around neighborhoods, shopping centers and community gathering spots, to chat, get acquainted, learn about local concerns and sometimes, resolve issues on the spot. “Know us before you need us,” Chief Davis said when announcing the new program. When positive relationships are nurtured ahead of time, energies can be directed to resolving the emergency at hand. A hint to civic and homeowner associations planning fall activities – contact your local police station ahead of time and invite the officers on duty to stop by your event. It’s a plus for everyone.

Now that the 2020 Census data has been released by the federal government, months later than forecast and with some serious concerns about the accuracy of the counts, expressed by local demographers, work to redraw election boundaries can get underway. Federal and state laws require that federal, state and local election district boundaries be reviewed and amended to be roughly equal in population, reflecting the “one man, one vote” ideal. Congressional, State Senate and House of Delegates districts will be redrawn by the Virginia Redistricting Commission, but Board of Supervisor and School Board district boundaries will be done at the local level. Fairfax County’s 20-member Redistricting Advisory Committee is developing recommendations for new electoral boundaries, and the public is invited to draw and submit proposed redistricting maps using the county’s online mapping tool. Publicly submitted maps will be considered by the committee. Log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/redistricting/ for more information and access to the online map.

Fairfax Water’s first customer service survey began last week, and will run through the end of this month. The survey, which may be completed in English or in Spanish, should take about five minutes to complete and will help the water utility improve services to its customers. Information about the survey is available at www.fairfaxwater.org/news/survey or visit bit.ly/fairfaxwater4U to take the survey.

Fairfax County facilities and programs are reopening to the public but face masks are required, and social distancing is encouraged. Please stay safe and healthy and be sure you are vaccinated. Vaccination protects you, and our community as well.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.