Phone Scammer Poses as Winchester Police Officer

The Winchester Police Department wants to warn local residents about a scam that involves phone calls from people pretending to be Winchester Police Officers asking for money to pay back taxes.  On May 20th the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office received a report from a resident who received several phone calls from a phone number with a 717 area code.  On one occasion the caller identified himself as being with the IRS.  On another call the individual said he was a police officer for the Winchester Police Department, but he would not provide a name or badge number.  The caller told the victim that he owed more than $2,000 in back taxes that needed to be paid or he would be deported from the country.  The victim was told to purchase several Pay Pal cards with the amount he “owed.”  On two of the calls the phone number that came up on caller id was the Winchester Police Department non-emergency number (540-662-4131).

If you receive a call from someone stating they are from the Winchester Police Department or IRS, hang up and call the police department (540-662-4131) or IRS to confirm it is legitimate.  We also want to remind local residents that you should be suspicious of anyone who calls you, says you owe money or have won money, and need to load money onto a pre-paid card as most of these calls involve scams.

Heroin Action Committee Meets

On average every nine days someone in our area dies from a heroin overdose.  The statistics show that heroin is an epidemic in our community and efforts are being made to combat the deadly addiction.  This morning a Heroin Action Committee meeting was held at the Timbrook Public Safety Center.  In attendance were those who committed, during an April heroin summit at Shenandoah University, to partake in designing and executing a plan to address the problem.  There were 23 people in attendance representing law enforcement, parents, educators, treatment professionals, legislators, businesses, health care providers, and the court system.  Each person in attendance shared their goals for the committee and what role they will play.  The group decided to form three subcommittees; funding, best practices, and community outreach.  The subcommittees will meet in the coming month and work to identify partner organizations in our area with similar efforts, identify funding opportunities, and research model programs in other communities throughout the nation.  The action committee will once again meet as a whole in July.  Today’s meeting lasted about 90 minutes.

The Heroin Action Committee is passionate about designing a plan to treat heroin addicts, educate the community, and reduce the number of people dying from overdoses.

National Police Week

In 1962 President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.  It’s a time to pause and honor police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  National Police Week this year runs from Sunday, May 11th through Saturday, May 17th.  This week the Winchester Police Department remembers Sergeant Ricky Timbrook. On Wednesday, May 14th the 11th Annual Police Memorial Service will be held at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy at 10 a.m.  Fallen officers from our area, including Sgt. Timbrook, will be honored during the ceremony.

On October 29, 1999, Winchester Police Sergeant Ricky L. Timbrook was fatally wounded while in foot pursuit with Edward Nathaniel Bell.  During the pursuit, Bell shot Sergeant Timbrook.

Residents Report Damage from a Bear

The Winchester Police Department’s Animal Control Unit is receiving calls from residents regarding a bear in the area.  Officers have received reports of bird feeders that have been destroyed.  On Thursday the police department received a call from the 1900 block of Harvest Drive where a resident reported that several trees and bird feeders were damaged.  Officers determined the damage was caused by a bear.

The bear is looking for food sources and in an effort to eliminate those sources Animal Control Officers ask residents to do the following:

  • Remove your bird feeders
  • Secure your garbage by storing it indoors, or in a bear-proof container.
  • Don’t leave any cat or dog food outside

Residents are reminded that if you see a bear, do not approach it.  Animal Control Officers say bears are more afraid of people than the people are of them.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says “residential bear problems may occur at any time of year, but are more common when natural food supplies are limited, usually in the spring or in years when natural nut and berry production is low.”  The department says after a few failed attempts to find food around homes, bears will usually leave the area.  For more information visit dgif.virginia.gov.

Apple Blossom 2014

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, the area’s greatest springtime celebration, begins with the Bloomin’ Wine Fest on Friday, April 25, and continues through Sunday, May 4.  This year commemorates the 87th anniversary of the Festival.  As always, safety is our number one priority during the Bloom.  There will be a strong presence of police personnel at events throughout the week.  The public is asked to assist in ensuring everyone’s safety by doing the following:

  • Staying aware of your surroundings
  • Reporting any suspicious activity immediately to law enforcement
  • Keeping your belongings with you at all times

The Apple Blossom Festival has added increased security measures at a number of events this year which can include checks of all bags upon entry into the event venue.  We strongly recommend that guests do not bring bags, backpacks, handbags, and purses to events unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.  If an item is left unattended it is subject to search and disposal.  Diaper bags that have necessary items for small children are acceptable; however they will be subject to searches.  The following items will be prohibited at the Bloomin’ Wine Fest, Weekend in the Park, all tent events, and the Coronation:

  • Backpacks/large bags 14 X 9
  • Alcohol
  • Weapons, knives of any kind
  • Any items that could be used or construed to be a weapon
  • Illegal drugs
  • Bottles, cans, thermoses, coolers
  • Animals (except for service)
  • Aerosol/spray cans
  • Food, snack, beverages
  • Noisemakers
  • Exception: diaper bags

Detour Route

The detour route goes into effect on Friday, May 2nd at 3:30 p.m. and will remain in effect until the end of the Firefighter’s Parade around 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday, May 3rd the route goes into effect at 8 a.m. until the end of the Grand Feature Parade around 7 p.m.

You can find maps, detours, and parking information on the City of Winchester’s website, www.winchesterva.gov and http://winchesterpolice.org/apple-blossom.

We strongly encourage anyone who is not attending a festival event to utilize alternate routes:

Interstate 81 and Routes 37, 50, 7, and 522.  Drivers in the City of Winchester should expect heavy congestion and delays.  We ask for the public’s patience and cooperation with traffic changes.

Parking Restrictions

No parking signs will be posted on Thursday, May 2nd.  The parking restrictions go into effect and are strictly enforced beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, May 3rd and continuing until 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 4th.  There are no exceptions to these restrictions, even for residents.  We will attempt to locate the owner of a vehicle that is not following parking restrictions to avoid towing.  If we are unable to locate the owner, the vehicle will be ticketed and towed.  If your vehicle has been towed, you will need to contact the Winchester Police Department non-emergency number at 540-662-4131 to find out where to pick up your vehicle.  Various towing companies will be utilized to assist in their enforcement.

Parking for the Wine Festival will be available in the George Washington and Court Square Autoparks.

Handicapped parking is available at each Apple Blossom sponsored event.  We recommend that residents utilize downtown parking garages for the Grand Feature Parade.

Handicapped parking for Weekend in the Park will be available in front of the War Memorial Building.

Animals/Pets

Animals are prohibited in festival areas during specified events.  Please refer to Section 5-15 of the Winchester City Code.

Children

Each year children are separated from their parents during the festival.  Parents and guardians are asked to carry a picture of their children with them and to also know what their children are wearing to assist in locating them if they become lost.  Inform your children that if they become lost to go to a uniformed police officer for help.  If you need to report a lost child, call the Winchester Police Department non-emergency number at 540-662-4131.

Alcoholic Beverages

Persons attending any festival event on public streets or grounds are prohibited from consuming alcoholic beverages or being in possession of an open container.  Consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons 21 years and older is allowed at some festival events within approved areas and restaurants where state licenses have been obtained.  Officers will be actively enforcing laws pertaining to open containers and drunk in public.  If you plan to drink, remember to drink responsibly and designate a sober driver before you leave home.

Public Works

The Public Works team deploys more than 200 barricades and 200 cones throughout the city to be used for traffic and crowd control.  The team puts together 1,900 trash boxes that will be used at the festival.  The festival generates about 30 tons of trash on Friday and Saturday. There will be recycling containers at some of the events; however, residents are encouraged to take items home that can be recycled.  Residents whose regular trash pickup is on Fridays should place trashcans by the curb Thursday night.  The trash will be picked up early Friday morning.

Additional Resources

If anyone has questions regarding street closures, parking, and detour routes, the Winchester Volunteers in Policing will be available by phone Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon to answer questions.  The numbers are 540-545-4737 and 540-545-4738.  We strongly encourage the use of these numbers over the non-emergency telephone number due to the number of calls received by our Emergency Communications Center.  Please refrain from using 911 unless you have an emergency.

Agency Assistance

The Winchester Police Department’s entire force will be providing security for the festival and will be assisted by a number of agencies.  We would like to thank the Virginia Defense Force, the Winchester City Sheriff’s Office, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, Mount Weather Police, the FBI, Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Forces, Winchester Emergency Communications Center, Emergency Management Coordinator Lynn Miller, and civilian employees with the Winchester Police Department.

We wish everyone a safe and happy Bloom!

Keep Your Prescriptions Out of the Hands of Others

drug take backThis year 11 people in our area have died from heroin overdoses.  Experts say an epidemic of prescription drug abuse is fueling a spike in heroin use.  Heroin addiction is a community-wide issue and local law enforcement agencies, spearheaded by the Winchester City Sheriff, are calling on residents to help in the fight against a deadly addiction.  We can all start by cleaning out our medicine cabinets this week.  The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is this Saturday, April 26th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following collection sites in our area.

  • Rotz Pharmacy, 1338 Amherst St., Winchester
  • CVS Pharmacy, 804 Berryville Avenue, Winchester
  • Frederick County/Winchester Joint Judicial Center Front Parking Lot Cameron Street Side, 5 North Kent Street, Winchester
  • Winchester Elks Lodge Main Entrance, 466 Front Royal Pike, Winchester
  • CVS Pharmacy, 1379 North Frederick Pike, Winchester
  • Martin’s Food Market, 240 Elizabeth Drive, Stephens City

Studies have shown the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family members or friends.  It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to keep our prescriptions out of the hands of others.  Disposing of unused medications by flushing them down a toilet or throwing them in the trash can pose safety and health hazards.  Drug Take-Back Day is free and anonymous with no questions asked.  We hope everyone will take advantage of this opportunity to get rid of their unwanted and expired medications.

 

11 Arrested for Prostitution

A prostitution sting by the Winchester Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division and Community Response Team netted 11 arrests.  The undercover operation on Friday, April 18th targeted customers of prostitutes.  The following men were charged with prostitution and released on a summons:

  • Hassan Bah, 19, of Stephens City
  • Charles Bowling, Jr., 31, of Stephens City
  • David Cafini, 43, of Warrenton
  • Gilmer Estrada-Alvarado, 30, of Greenbelt, MD
  • Kyle McDaniel, 44, of Stephens City
  • Rogelio Meza, 24, of Front Royal
  • Gildardo Morales-Peralta, 24, of Winchester
  • Scott Naylor, 36, of Winchester
  • Teddy Newman, 54, of Hedgesville, WV
  • Russell Partlow, III, 34, of Front Royal
  • Jose Suazo, 38, of Harrisonburg

Russell Partlow, III, was also charged with Possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

The goal of the undercover sting operation is to stop these criminal activities and discourage them in the future.

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week

Communication plays a vital role in the administration of any law enforcement or fire and rescue agency.  It expedites the handling of assignments and serves as the lifeline for police officers and fire and rescue personnel.  This week we honor the men and women who are our public safety communications professionals who work behind the scenes to help us during emergencies.  We are fortunate to have a group of dedicated Emergency Communications Center Specialists in the City of Winchester Emergency Communication Center.  It takes an incredible amount of patience and professionalism for these individuals to calmly dispatch officers or emergency service personnel, all while communicating with an irate or hysterical caller on the phone.

Tuesday afternoon Elizabeth Yost was recognized as the Emergency Communications Specialist of the Year.  Yost has been with the department for nearly nine years and is an overall asset to the Center.  She is dedicated to the profession and is always efficient.  Recently Yost has played a key role in training new employees and always makes herself available to work overtime.

Please join us in celebrating National Telecommunications Week and as we honor these individuals who work behind the scenes.

K-9 and Handler to be Recognized by Local Group

K-9 Officer KotaK-9 Officer Kota and his handler Corporal Brittney Kotynski-Neer will receive an award Thursday from the Woodman of the World Chapter 34.  The recognition comes just months after an incident when Kota was injured while apprehending a suspect on a call for a breaking and entering.  Since the incident in January, Kota has undergone three surgeries to repair a broken leg and countless hours of rehabilitation.  Corporal Neer has dedicated her time to attending rehab sessions and working with her K9 partner in an effort to get him back on his paws.

Members of the media are invited to attend the dinner and awards ceremony on Thursday, April 17th at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Center behind the Throx Country Store on Senseny Road.  We hope you can join us.

Community Walkabouts to Improve Safety in Neighborhoods

Winchester City Officials will be doing community walkabouts in an effort to improve the livability and safety of our neighborhoods.  Each Thursday at 3 p.m. officials will be walking along different streets and blocks to identify any problems so they can be addressed at an early stage.  We want our neighborhoods to be an attractive place where people want to live.

City departments that will be represented on the walkabouts include the Winchester Police Department, Winchester Fire and Rescue Department, Planning and Zoning, and Inspections and Code Enforcement.

Together we aim to identify issues including:

  • Vandalism
  • Neglected homes/properties
  • Litter
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Graffiti
  • Any other problems that are identified

Residents are welcome to join their local community walkabout and we hope everyone will take an active interest in improving our community.