Fairfax County Police say Tysons Corner, with its densely compacted malls, office buildings, hotels and surrounding retail establishments, already creates unique law enforcement challenges. With four new Tysons Corner Metro stations slated to open in December, police are now looking at how they will cope with expected increases in crime.
According to a presentation made to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors earlier this month by police Captain Daniel Janickey, commander of the McLean District Station, the Tysons Corner area only houses 19,000 residents but boasts a daytime population of 250,000 people who daily inhabit its 33 million square feet of office space and nearly 4,000 hotel rooms. The two Tysons Corner malls receive in excess of 23 million annual visitors.
Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, recently said that Tysons Corner is rapidly overshadowing the District of Columbia and becoming the new epicenter of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., region.
“Tysons Corner is the new downtown,” he said last week at a panel discussion hosted by the Tysons Corner Regional Chamber of Commerce. Tysons Corner was issued its own postal zip code in 2011.
With the advent of Metro adding to this already congested area, Janickey told supervisors that based on anecdotal research conducted with mall property managers, hotel, restaurant and transportation leaders and the Metro Transit police, he expects an increase in area assaults, robberies, thefts, destruction of property and stolen vehicles once Metro opens.
“When you have an increase in population you will also have an increase in crime,” said Fairfax County Deputy Chief of Police Ed Roessler, who accompanied Janickey at the presentation.
Janickey told supervisors that significant amounts of crime at Tysons is already committed by offenders living outside Northern Virginia, including organized crime rings from New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, as well as D.C. residents who, after being arrested, admitted to coming to the area by train to commit crimes.
Janickey added that the advent of the new Metro stations to the area will necessitate seven-day police coverage of the area. Roessler and Janickey estimate that the McLean District Station, currently staffed by 132 officers and 28 staff members, would need about 33 new positions, including 24 officers and another parking enforcement officer, preferably by the first part of 2014, to effectively accomplish this.
According to Roessler, in addition to a short-term need of additional officers, the long-term impacts of Tysons’ expected population increases over the next 40 years also will redefine how police will approach the area’s urbanization.
“Tysons Corner will ultimately need its own police station,” he said. “In addition, one-officer patrols will have to evolve into two-officer patrols, and we will have to begin initiating training in ‘vertical policing,’ which means officers will learn to effectively respond to increased calls on high floors of office and apartment buildings, as those in large cities do. We need to evolve with the urbanization of the Tysons Corner area, and maintain rapid response times within that atmosphere. ”
Toward that end, the Fairfax County Department of Public Works is already exploring the possibility of Tysons Corner being the target for the county’s first “fully urban” police station, which would be designed to be potentially housed in a mixed-use commercial/residential/retail environment, but still be able to allow police the resources they will need.
“We are strictly in an exploratory phase at this point, but we are looking at it,” said county spokesman Brian Worthy. “Public Works is working with architects and police station design consultants who have done this in other cities.”
According to Roessler, the future urbanization of Tysons Corner will usher in a whole new era of policing.
“Essentially we will go from having one-officer vehicle patrols to having more officers on bicycles, Segways and increased foot patrols,” he said. “A new urban station will also allow visitors to walk in when they need us, and allow officers to walk out the front door and start patrolling when they need to.”