Top of VA Regional Chamber to Honor Public Safety Heroes

Public safety personnel often go above and beyond the call of duty with little or no recognition.  These men and women in our community expose themselves to great personal risk and life-threatening situations to ensure our safety.  The Top of Virginia Regional Chamber and the local business community want to celebrate these inspiring individuals, as well as citizens for the selfless sacrifices they make to keep our community safe.

We are excited to announce a new event to recognize public safety heroes in our community.  Members of the media are invited to attend a press conference on June 3, 2013 at 1 p.m. in front of the Timbrook Public Safety Center at 231 East Piccadilly Street.  Local public safety chiefs and leaders will be present for this exciting announcement.

WPD to Take Part in Click It or Ticket

Virginia roadways will be busy this Memorial Day holiday as folks celebrate the unofficial start of summer.  Winchester Police will be out in full force beginning next week to aggressively enforce seat belt laws.  Beginning May 20, 2013 the Winchester Police Department will be taking part in the 2013 national Click It or Ticket campaign.  Officers will be cracking down on motorists who are not buckled up and will be checking to ensure proper child restraint use.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, with the proper use of seat belts you are 40 percent less likely to be fatally injured during a crash.  Virginia law requires seat belt use for drivers and front seat passengers 18 years of age and older, and all passengers younger than 18.  The WPD strongly encourages all passengers in the car to buckle up whether they are in the front or back seats as regular seat belt use has proven to save lives.

“Winchester Police Department officers are dedicated to saving lives.  Aggressive enforcement of the seat belt law is the most effective way of attaining that goal.  I believe that 2/3 of traffic fatalities during my tenure as Chief could have been avoided by the proper wearing of seatbelts.  We want to prevent any further needless deaths,” says Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher.

This year’s enforcement mobilization runs through June 2, 2013, but drivers should know that Winchester Police Officers are out enforcing seat belt laws year-round.

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

Rental Chairs Taken After Apple Blossom

The Winchester Police Department is asking for the public’s help after nearly 300 chairs went missing following Apple Blossom.  The chairs that had been rented by a Boy Scout Troop were in front of 103 and 104 North Braddock Street.  They were supposed to be picked up by a rental company on May 5th, but when the company arrived, the chairs were no longer there.  The chairs are white non-folding plastic chairs.  It is believed they were picked up on May 5th between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  It is our hope that the chairs were mistakenly picked up by a different rental company and that they will come forward so that the Boy Scout Troop will not be responsible for paying thousands of dollars for the missing chairs.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Winchester Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 540-545-4704 or Crime Solvers at 540-665-TIPS (8477).

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

Winchester Featured in National Report on City Leadership for Children and Families

Timbrook House

Timbrook House

Winchester is featured in a new report highlighting promising city efforts to improve the lives of children, youth, and families in communities with populations below 75,000.  The city was selected for inclusion in the report for the Winchester Police Department’s Timbrook House Youth Reporting Center (YRC) initiative.

For three years the Timbrook House has been providing alternatives to detention for juvenile offenders, including those who violate terms of probation or who commit new crimes while on probation.  Referrals to the Timbrook House come from the school system or juvenile court.  Many of the referred youth are nonviolent offenders with serious truancy or behavioral problems who previously would have been sent to detention facilities or expelled from school.  As the report states, the YRC has proven successful with the number of contacts between the police department and youth referred to the program declining.

“We are very proud of the services our staff provides to the kids at Timbrook House.  We see this article as an opportunity to share our experience with other communities,” says Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher.

The National League of Cities published the report “Municipal Leadership for Children and Families in Small and Mid-Sized Cities” which describes innovative strategies from more than 40 cities and towns across the country.  Visit www.nlc.org/smallcities to view the report.

NLC’s new report is designed to provide municipal leaders with new ideas and inspiration to guide local action on behalf of young people and families in their communities.  The report draws upon information gathered from surveys, interviews, and a scan of promising practices identified by NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families and state municipal leagues.  It explores the unique challenges and opportunities facing small and mid-sized cities that seek to improve outcomes for children and youth.

For more information on the Timbrook House please visit http://winchesterpolice.org/timbrook-house-youth-reporting-center

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

Traffic Delays

Area residents should expect traffic delays in the downtown Winchester area beginning tonight around 6 p.m.  Venders will be coming to the downtown area to setup for the Midway.  Drivers should expect traffic delays in the North End of the downtown area during this time.

Officers are beginning to post no parking signs in the downtown area.  The majority of the parking restrictions will go into effect Friday morning.

We would like to remind the public that if you are not attending an Apple Blossom event to avoid the downtown Winchester area or expect major delays due to increased traffic.

We wish everyone a safe and happy Bloom.

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

Phone Scam Update

Local residents are continuing to receive calls from an automated message claiming to be from Winchester Federal Credit Union.  Residents are reminded to hang up when they receive these calls.  If you hang up and have not given your information on these calls, there is no need to call the police department.  If you have given your information including your credit card number, please contact your bank immediately and then call the Winchester Police Department Non-Emergency number at (540) 662-4131 to file a police report.  We appreciate your cooperation in this matter as our dispatchers are experiencing a very high call volume due to Apple Blossom Festival.

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

Phone Scam

The Winchester Police Department wants to warn area residents of a phone scam.  Residents are receiving calls claiming to be from Winchester Federal Credit Union.  The automated message states that your debit card information has been restricted or compromised.  This is a scam.  Last week some residents received text messages with a similar message. Some of the numbers return to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico or are listed as “unknown”.  These calls and text messages are an attempt to obtain personal account information.  Please do not respond to these calls or give out any of your personal information over the phone or through other electronic means.  Winchester Federal Credit Union and other financial companies will not leave a phone message such as this and would not ask for your personal information over the phone.

If you have responded to these messages and given your personal information out, please call (800) 528-2273 to have your card blocked.

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

Operation Valley Venue

A special operation conducted by the Northwest VA Regional Drug and Gang Task Force cracked down on illegal narcotics in the area.  The eight hour operation aimed at identifying, targeting and arresting individuals responsible for the distribution, manufacturing, and transportation of illegal narcotics.  The North End Team covered the City of Winchester and Frederick County.  Agents conducted 21 searches of residences with probation officers.  The Task Force was assisted by six agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Winchester Police Department, Virginia State Police, Probation and Parole, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.  The group also visited 15 residences of interest.  The following arrests were made:

  • Jeremy Simpson for probation violation – 200 block of Millwood Avenue, Winchester
  • Matthew Hoenig for possession of narcotics and probation violation – 500 block of North Kent Street, Winchester
  • Terry Johnson for providing false information to a law enforcement officer – 100 block of Lamden Avenue, Winchester
  • Carroll Smith for possession of marijuana, 200 block of Ash Hollow Drive, Frederick County
  • Bradley Martin for probation violation, 1300 block of Pitcock Lane, Frederick County
  • Kathleen Stickley for possession of marijuana, 200 block of Cougar Trail, Frederick County

The following drugs were found during searches of homes; heroin, marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and prescription drugs.  Agents had encounters with four known gang members.  More than $900 of U.S. Currency was taken from a home in the 100 block of Lamden Avenue.  Five homes were cited with code violations and a residence on Bellview Avenue was deemed uninhabitable by Zoning and Inspections.

This was the first operation of its kind conducted in Winchester and Frederick County and is part of the Task Force’s effort to get drugs off our streets and make our area a safer place to live.

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

Apple Blossom 2013

Pink and green is popping up throughout Winchester as the city gears up for the 86th annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. 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 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. This year as in past years, we are calling on the public to help be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. The public is asked to:

  • Be vigilant of their surroundings
  • Report any suspicious activity
  • Keep their belongings with them at all times

We encourage you to leave bags and coolers at home. If an item is left unattended it will be confiscated.

Apple Blossom 2013

The detour route goes into effect on Friday, May 3rd 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 4th 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.

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 of 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 festival generates about 150 tons of trash. That’s the same amount as weekly trash pickup on the city’s north-side. The Public Works team put together 1,900 trash boxes that will be used at the festival. 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.

We wish everyone a safe and happy Bloom!

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

Beware of Internet Scams

In tough economic times people often look for creative ways to seek employment which sometimes can make them more susceptible to scams.  A Frederick County woman is speaking out after becoming a victim of fraud in hopes of preventing it from happening to anyone else.  She placed ads on Craigslist seeking employment as a nanny and as a senior care worker.  The 40-year-old received e-mails in response to her posting, offering her employment as a personal assistant.  In the e-mails the supposed employer asked her to cash checks that they would mail her, and she was told to send the money by various means to other accounts.  The scam involved cashier’s checks.  The victim is now out more than $2,400.

Craigslist offers tips on its website to prevent from becoming a victim of fraud and scams.  It suggests dealing locally, never wiring funds, and never giving out financial information.  There is also information on Craigslist on how to recognize a scam.

The Winchester Police Department reminds residents to be vigilant about over the phone or e-mail based financial transactions, especially ones that are unsolicited.  If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, you should file a police report.

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