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.

Founder of SEAL Team Six to Speak in Winchester

Richard Marcinko PicRichard Marcinko is one of a kind.  He was the founder of SEAL Team Six, he’s a retired U.S. Navy Seal commander, a Vietnam War veteran, and was the first commanding officer and founder of a second counterterrorism unit, Red Cell.  Marcinko is one of the United States’ most accomplished and recognized special operations experts with more than 30 years of experience in a variety of specialties including counter-terrorism, intelligence, and special operations. His experiences led to The New York Times best-selling autobiography Rogue Warrior, and subsequent sequels, some of which are co-written with John Weisman.

The Winchester Police Department invites you to come hear Marcinko speak on leadership, teamwork, and motivation.  The event is free and open to the public.  The presentation will be held on Friday, April 11th from 1 – 5 p.m. at Shenandoah University in Halpin-Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium.  To register please send an e-mail to wpdrsvp@gmail.com and provide your name.  We hope that you can join us and we encourage you to spread the word about this unique opportunity.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov

Officers Stepping Up Patrols for St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

The Winchester Police Department wants to remind those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day to pack a little extra green this year to ensure they can pay for a safe ride home.  The police department will have increased patrols throughout the city beginning tonight through Monday.  The patrols will be specifically targeting drunk drivers.  The extra patrols are part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.  Residents are reminded to plan ahead before heading out to celebrate the holiday by designating a sober driver before leaving home or to call a taxi to take them home.  Everyone is reminded to drink responsibly.

If you suspect an impaired driver call the non-emergency police telephone number at 540-662-4131.  Callers should be prepared to give a description of the vehicle, license plate number, location, and the car’s direction of travel.

Also remember that if you know someone who is about to drive or ride with someone who is under the influence to help them make other arrangements to ensure their safety.

We wish everyone a safe holiday weekend.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov

Public Reporting More Scams Via Phone

The Winchester Police Department is warning local residents about two phone scams that are targeting people in our area.  One caller says he is from the “My Windows Support Technical Maintenance Department” and is calling about a problem with your computer.  He asks you to log on to your computer so he can fix the problem.  When asked where he is calling from the individual states he’s in Miami, Florida.  He has been known to say, “go to your Windows computer and I will show you what I’m talking about.”  This is a scam in which they access your personal information off your computer or they claim they have gotten rid of viruses on your computer and then charge you for it.

Another phone scam involves local residents receiving a call from someone who claims you have just won a Publisher’s Clearinghouse prize of several million dollars.  The caller tells the person on the other line not to tell anyone about this.  One local resident said the individual knew personal information about her including her address which made her believe it was legitimate.  The caller then tells you to go to a local store and purchase a “Green Dot MoneyPak Card” and to load $500 onto the card.  You’re then told to mail the card to a certain address and you will receive your winnings.  When the card is mailed no money is returned and the victim is out the amount that was loaded onto the card.

The Winchester Police Department offers the following tips to help you prevent from becoming a victim of phone scams:

  • If you receive a call, and have caller ID, look at your caller ID.  If it is a number that you don’t recognize or if the number is blocked it is best not to pick up the phone.  If it’s someone who needs to get in touch with you they will leave a message.
  • Phone scammers often tell you to not tell anyone about what you’ve won; they tell you that it’s a secret.  They often make references to religion.
  • Never give your personal information to anyone over the phone.
  • You don’t have to give money to receive money.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you believe you have been a victim of a phone scam contact the police department to make a report.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov

Seniors: Armed with Knowledge

Older Americans make up the fastest-growing segment of the population.  By 2025, 25 percent of Virginia’s population will be age 60 and up.  According to the 2010 U.S. Census nearly 14 percent of the population of Winchester and Frederick County were 65 and older.  In 2011 AARP named Winchester one of the Top 10 Best Places to Live (and Retire) Affordably in the U.S.  Local law enforcement officials and senior group leaders recognize the growing elderly population in our area and are joining efforts to create the Winchester/Frederick County TRIAD.  TRIAD is a partnership between the local sheriff’s offices, police department, seniors and senior service providers in the community who work together to reduce criminal victimization of the elderly.  The local Seniors and Law Enforcement Together Council (S.A.L.T. Council) includes representatives from the Winchester Police Department, Winchester City Sheriff’s Office, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, more than a dozen senior service providers, and local seniors.

The Winchester/Frederick County TRIAD will be holding a senior festival on March 31st.  The event, Seniors: Armed with Knowledge, is free for local seniors.  The festival will include vendors, a free lunch, and speakers on the following topics:

  • Fraud/Scams
  • Memory Loss
  • Financial Safety
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Advanced Medical Directives
  • Home Health Care and Long-term Care Options

The senior festival will be held from 8 a.m. – 1:30 p. m. in the Valley Health Conference Center at 1888 Amherst Street.  Registration is required by March 14th.  Please contact Jennifer Benavente at (540) 327-4284 or jen@smoothtransitionsofthevalley.com.

Click here to view the flyer for this event.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov

Number of Accidents Decline in the City

The Winchester Police Department has sent a message to residents and visitors of the city to take their personal safety seriously when behind the wheel, and statistics show the message is being heard.  According to statistics that meet Department of Motor Vehicles reporting standards in 2013 there was a 34 percent decrease in traffic crashes in Winchester from 2012 to 2013.  There were no fatal accidents in 2013 and crashes involving injury dropped 36 percent.  Alcohol related crashes involving injury fell 92 percent from 2012 to 2013.  Crashes that resulted in injury and were found to be speed related declined 58 percent.

Available Crash Data for Calendar Year (CY) CY 2010 CY 2011 CY 2012 CY 2013
Total Crashes 464 499 533 354
Fatal Crashes 0 0 1 0
Injury Crashes 134 150 119 76
Alcohol Related Injury  Crashes 10 10 13 1
Speed Related Injury  Crashes 19 13 12 5

Over the past three years officers have performed some of the highest enforcement efforts in the department’s history.  While these statistics are encouraging officers continue to be aggressive and proactive in an effort to encourage good driving behavior. The public has acknowledged that the message heard on the street is you don’t drink and drive in the city, or you will be caught.

The Winchester Police Department would like to thank the public for taking driving seriously in an effort to ensure the safety of themselves and others on the road.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov

Take Control of Your Driving Future

The Winchester Police Department wants mature drivers to take control of their driving future.  Older drivers, those who are 70-years-old and older, make up 10 percent of all licensed drivers in the U.S.  Age alone is not enough to indicate a safe driver, in fact, statistically elderly are the safest group of drivers, however, even the most experienced and competent drivers need to refresh their driving skills as they age.  It is normal for our driving abilities to change as we age.  By reducing risk factors and incorporating safe driving practices, many of us can continue driving safely well into our senior years.

On Friday, March 7th the Winchester Police Department will hold a presentation for mature drivers.  Topics will include:

  • How Aging Affects Driving
  • Safe Senior Driving
  • Driving Defensively
  • Finding the Right Car for You
  • Medications and Driving
  • Preventative Steps You Can Take to Continue Driving Safely

The presentation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Active Living and Recreation Center in the War Memorial Building at Jim Barnett Park.

Click here to view the flyer for this event.

Limited seating is available.  Please register by March 3rd by e-mailing or calling Lauren Cummings at Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov or (540) 545-7548.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov

Protect Your Money

The Winchester Police Department wants your money to stay with you in 2014.  The police department has been receiving a number of reports of fraud and wants to educate the public on how to prevent from becoming a victim.

On January 30th officers received a report of credit card fraud.  The victim had met someone online who told her that if she loaded $400 on a prepaid card she would make more than that amount.  The victim added the money to a prepaid card, but now the money is missing and she didn’t receive anything in return.

On January 25th officers were contacted regarding mail fraud.  The victim signed up for a secret shopper program online and received a money order in the mail with instructions on how to proceed.  The victim deposited the money order into his account and was instructed to send a portion of it to France.  After he had sent the money by Western Union the bank notified the victim that the check was fraudulent.  The victim lost more than $800 in this scam.

Typical types of Lottery/Sweepstakes Frauds include:

  • Victims who are told they have won a prize in a lottery or sweepstakes
  • To obtain the promised winnings, victims are told they must pay “taxes” or “fees”
  • Payments are requested via Bank Wire Transfer, Western Union, Moneygram, or other money service businesses

Always keep in mind that if something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.  Also, remember that you shouldn’t have to give money to receive money.

To prevent from becoming a victim always know who you are dealing with, don’t fall for scams that promise a large amount of money, and always do your research.

We want to remind you to never give your personal information over the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud contact the police department to make a report.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov

Designate a Sober Driver before Kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday

The Super Bowl is one of America’s most highly anticipated sports events, when friends and family gather to celebrate.  The Winchester Police Department reminds residents to designate a sober driver on Super Bowl Sunday before kick-off so everyone will arrive home safe after the game.  The WPD will have saturated patrols in place on Super Bowl Sunday and has a no tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving.  Officers will be looking for drivers who are driving drunk or are impaired by other drugs and will be charging them.

According to NHTSA, in 2011, 9,878 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. These crashes were 31 percent more likely to occur on weekends than on weekdays.

If you’re attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game at a sports bar or restaurant:

  • Designate your sober driver, or plan another way to get home safely before the party begins.
  • If you don’t have a designated driver, then ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or just stay for the night.
  • Never let friends drive if they have had too much to drink.

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party:

  • Make sure all your guests designate a sober driver in advance, or arrange for alternate transportation to ensure they get home safely.
  • Serve food and include non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
  • Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and begin serving coffee and dessert.
  • Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink.

Remember, your seat belt is your best defense against a drunk driver in a crash.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  Lauren.Cummings@winchesterva.gov