Albemarle County Police Speak at Woodbrook Meeting

Captain Pete Mainzer speaking to Woodbrook residents at Woodbrook Elementary School. The event was organized by Woodbrook resident Audrey Kocher in conjunction with the Albemarle County Department of Community Engagement.

On June 3, 2015, a group of about 16 Woodbrook residents attended a presentation on geo-policing by the Albemarle County Police Department (ACPD) at Woodbrook Elementary School. To bring their message to a wider Woodbrook audience, we interviewed two of the presenters. Captain Pete Mainzer joined the ACPD in 1986 and has responsibility for the Jefferson Patrol District which encompasses the northern and eastern part of Albemarle County. Lieutenant Tim Aylor is the Deputy District Commander for the Jefferson District and has served on the force since 1995. We caught up with the officers at the ACPD headquarters on 5th Street Extended. The interview was recorded on June 30, 2015.

Listen to our interview with Captain Mainzer and Lieutenant Aylor. (36m)

The Albemarle County Police Department was created in 1983; Albemarle County is one of just nine counties in Virginia with a dedicated police force. In December 2012, the ACPD was reorganized to implement geo-policing. Geographic-based policing is a revised version of community-oriented policing, says Mainzer in this interview. “We’ve created district teams,” said Mainzer, “and those teams consist of uniformed patrol officers, some of our detectives, animal control officers, some of our school resource officers, [and] some of our fire marshals that work along side us.” District officers work in the same geographic part of the county every day. “The creation of these district teams has really provided a much better system of accountability at all levels,” said Mainzer. In geo-policing’s final implementation, Mainzer expects to see the establishment of precinct stations within each district.

The Woodbrook community is in sector two of the Jefferson district. Sector two consists of everything east of US29 from the city limits at Hydraulic Road up to Polo Grounds Road.

According to Lieutenant Aylor, the most common crime in Woodbrook is theft from vehicles.

According to Lieutenant Aylor, the three most common crimes that occur in Woodbrook are larcenies from vehicles, scams, and daytime burglaries. “We particularly see an up-tick in larcenies from vehicles during the warm summertime months,” said Aylor, “It’s a crime of opportunity.” Vehicles that are unlocked are especially vulnerable to the theft of change, sunglasses, GPS devices, and anything else that can be carried on foot, said Aylor. “If you see a person at two or three o’clock in the morning, and they have a backpack on, they’re probably not making the right decisions,” he said. The lieutenant went on to say that it’s important to store valuables out of sight and to keep your vehicle locked at all times. Better yet, says Aylor, take your valuables inside with you.

Another precaution Woodbrook residents can take to prevent crime is to keep their property neat. “It could be a simple thing as keeping your lawn and your bushes trimmed,” said Aylor, “that’s a place where criminals could hide.”

Some Woodbrook residents have indicated that they are reluctant to report small crimes to the police. But according to Aylor, the ACPD wants to hear about all crimes committed in the neighborhood. “If you think it’s suspicious, we want to be called,” he said. Crimes in progress should be reported via the 9-1-1 system. “We try to get to emergency calls [from Woodbrook] within five minutes or less, 85% of the time.” said Mainzer. Past or non-emergency crimes can be reported through the non-emergency number, 434-977-9041, or via the ACPD web site.

Summertime brings a lot of door-to-door soliciting to Woodbrook. “[Criminals] will target an older person, an elderly person, where they will overcharge them for a small job,” is one example of a common door-to-door scam, said Aylor. He also said that a criminal will sometimes distract a homeowner in front of their house while their partner enters the home through the rear.

“What we encourage citizens to do is to call us if they want their house checked,” said Aylor

If you plan to be away for a vacation or long trip, “What we encourage citizens to do is to call us if they want their house checked,” said Aylor. The ACPD will assign an Auxiliary Police officer to check your property periodically during your absence.

The department’s Facebook page is used to alert citizens of potential crimes, motorist alerts, and other important bulletins. “From our stand point, with the ACPD, [Facebook] is a huge vehicle for us to push out information to the public,” said Mainzer.

Regarding the grade-separated interchange at Rio Road and US 29, the ACPD is not anticipating significant problems. “We’re in constant contact VDOT about the timeline and about the project as a whole,” said Mainzer. “I understand that much of the work, specifically at the grade-separated interchange is going to occur during the nighttime hours, so that may lessen some of the impact for people that have to travel along that corridor.”

What do you think? Have you had a recent need to call the police? Was your problem resolved to your satisfaction? How can the ACPD improve service to the Woodbrook Neighborhood? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.