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

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week

Pictured from left to right: Adrianne Williams, Tara Wooten, Angela Lauck, Kelly Brill, Tammy DeHaven, Andrea Turner, Elizabeth Yost, and Jennifer Copeland. Not Pictured: Erin Elrod, Terri Mellott, and Mike Sale

 

This week we honor the men and women who serve as the “first” first responders.  They 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 at the Winchester Police Department.  They are the first line of contact to our emergency professionals who respond during times of crisis.  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.

Please join us in celebrating National Telecommunications Week and as we honor these individuals who work behind the scenes we send our thoughts and prayers to the dispatchers and first responders in Boston.

Adrianne Williams

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

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash if you are texting while driving.  The Winchester Police Department is joining DRIVE SMART Virginia in supporting Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we’re calling on all drivers to avoid any distraction when they’re behind the wheel.  According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, last year more than 770 people died in crashes in Virginia.  Eight out of 10 traffic accidents in the Commonwealth are related to a distracted driving incident.

The Winchester Police Department is reaching out to teen drivers this month in an effort to educate them about the dangers of texting while driving.  We will be handing out flyers to students at Handley High School during dismissal on April 15th and asking for their commitment to stop using a cell phone while driving.  The message is “Buckle Up, Phone Down.”

Distracted driving isn’t limited to your cell phone.  Set your GPS before you hit the road.  It’s also recommended that you eat in a restaurant, not in the car.  Children in the back seat can also be a distraction.  Avoid turning around to tend to children, and instead pull over to take care of their needs. Finally, we hope that you will remind your friends and family of the dangers of being distracted while driving.  A quick look away from the road could cause a serious crash that could injure you, your passengers, or someone else.  It isn’t worth it; the call, the text, and the e-mail can wait.

For more information visit www.drivesmartva.org.

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

Police to Increase Patrols for St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

Don’t count on luck to get your home safely this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, guarantee it by planning ahead.  The Winchester Police Department will have increased patrols throughout the city beginning tonight through Sunday.  Residents are reminded to plan ahead before heading out to celebrate the holiday by designating a sober driver before leaving home.  Officers will be looking for drivers who are driving drunk or are impaired by other drugs.

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

Winchester Police Cruisers Get New Look

Winchester Police Cruiser

Winchester Police Cruiser

You will soon see two new cruisers on the streets of  Winchester.  The Winchester Police  Department has added two new patrol cars to its fleet.  The 2013 Ford Police Interceptors are  sporting a new design.  The design  includes a new blue and gold color scheme.   The vehicles are all wheel drive and will be safer for officers when  they are patrolling in inclement weather.   The cruisers will only flash blue lights, as the department is phasing  out the red lights on the light bars.

The police department invites members of the media  to the Timbrook Public Safety Center on Friday, February 15 to see the new  vehicles.  The event will take place at 1  o’clock in the lower parking lot on the west side of the building.

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

Residents Reminded to Remove Snow from Sidewalks

Mother Nature has dumped more snow on the region and even more is expected to fall.  The Winchester Police Department wants to remind residents of the city’s snow removal ordinance.  The ordinance requires property owners or occupants to remove snow and ice from sidewalks that adjoin their property.  If snow falls during the daytime, residents are responsible for clearing sidewalks within two hours after the precipitation has stopped falling.  Residents have until 9 a.m. the following day after a nighttime snowfall.  Those who do not comply with the ordinance may receive a notice from the police department.  If the resident has not cleared the sidewalk within 24 hours of the notice, further action can be taken.

It is our goal to educate residents on the snow ordinance so that the city sidewalks remain a safe place for people to walk.

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

School Bus Safety

The  Winchester Police Department would like to remind the public to be extra  cautious when driving near school buses.  The police department has received complaints regarding drivers who are  not stopping when a school bus is displaying flashing red lights and a stop  sign.  Motorists are reminded that both  directions of traffic are required to stop on four lane roads without a divided  highway when a school bus is picking up or dropping off students.  Some examples of these roads in the City of  Winchester are Valley Avenue (Route 11) and Pleasant Valley Road.  Violators will be charged with reckless driving, a class 1 misdemeanor that is punishable with up to one year in jail  and/or a $2,500 fine.

Children  often forget to look both ways when they are getting on or off the bus and these traffic laws are in place to prevent an accident involving a school bus  or the bus riders.  The police department is increasing enforcement of traffic laws involving school buses in an effort  to ensure the safety of our children.

Code of Virginia § 46.2-859.  Passing  a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence.  A person driving a  motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any  school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for  the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in  motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving.  The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if  the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway  is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area.  The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the  school bus.  This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” in black letters at least eight inches high on the front  and rear thereof.  Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.

The testimony of the school bus driver, the supervisor of school buses or a law-enforcement officer that the vehicle was yellow, conspicuously marked as a school bus, and equipped with warning devices as prescribed in § 46.2-1090 is prima facie evidence that the vehicle is a school  bus.

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

Best Buy Donations to Benefit Timbrook Outreach Fund

On Saturday, January 19th Best Buy in  Winchester will present Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher of the Winchester Police  Department with a check to benefit the Ricky L. Timbrook Children’s Outreach  Fund.  Around the holidays Best Buy offered  free gift wrapping and the donations received benefitted the Timbrook Outreach Fund and Timber Ridge School.  This year the program raised $1,600, with both benefactors receiving half.

The Timbrook Outreach Fund was established on  November 1, 1999, just a few days after Winchester Police Sergeant Timbrook was  killed in the line of duty.  The fund was  established by Sergeant Timbrook’s wife to help disadvantaged children in the community to obtain items such as clothing, school supplies, and toys.

The Winchester Police Department would like to thank Best Buy and members of the community who made donations for supporting  this cause.

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