An overflow crowd of area residents welcomed the new command team at the Sully Police District Station Wednesday night when they were also treated to a behind-the-scenes peek into the high-tech forensic devices that detectives use to solve crimes.
The new station commander is Capt. Ed O’Carroll, who previously served at Sully as a patrol sergeant and the assistant commander is Lt. Richard Morvillo, who also previously worked at the station. Officer Tara Fruecht is the station’s new Crime Prevention Officer. Top commanders periodically rotate through all the Fairfax County Police Department stations.
The new officers were introduced at the Sully Citizens' Advisory Committee, a monthly forum for citizens to offer input about the delivery of police services.
“This is just great and these new guys are just stellar,” said Mike Shipley, of the Union Mills Community Association. “I’ve been to a lot of these meetings and this is the best response we’ve had. I’ve expressed some of my concerns (about local crime) and they have been very responsive.”
O’Carroll pledged to continue to listen to what the local residents want from officers who patrol the district, which covers about 70 square miles.
“It’s been energizing to come back to the community and we want to work to strengthen our community-department partnership,” O’Carroll said. “We want to continue our outreach to all the elements in the community.”
The district’s biggest crime challenge is keeping up with technology and trying to stay one jump ahead of the criminals, who are always working out new scams, O’Carroll said.
Detective Derek Hardy, who works in the department’s crime lab, gave the crowd an inside look at how fingerprint technology has significantly changed evidence gathering and the process of catching a crook.
Fingerprints, or palm prints or foot prints, can be more useful in solving crimes than a DNA sample, Hardy said. The national fingerprint database is much larger than the DNA database and can match a fingerprint to a single individual. DNA evidence not as useful in crimes where one of the suspects is an identical twin –both will have the same DNA, Hardy said. They will not have the same fingerprints.
“If there is a choice between fingerprints and DNA, I will choose fingerprints every time,” Hardy said. “With fingerprints, it’s a numbers game. The more fingerprints we are able to collect, the better chance we have of closing a case.”
In the past four years, their have been dramatic changes in the way that fingerprints are collected and analyzed, using special lasers and alternative light-source devices. These advances are able to tease out fingerprint evidence that previously was invisible to detectives, Hardy said.
The department also presented the Officer of the Quarter award to Officer Michael Roberts for his forensic work that closed several cold cases. Roberts, who joined the department in 2002, handles station-level crime scene investigations.
Suzy Dawson, of Oakton, brought her son, Jack, 15, an Eagle Scout candidate, to the meeting.
“This is big,” Suzy Dawson said. “We’re really glad we were able to come to this tonight.”
Membership to the department’s Citizens' Advisory Committee is open to the public. The CAC meetings for the Sully District are held the second Wednesday of each month at the Sully Police District Station, 4900 Stonecroft Blvd., Chantilly. For more information, contact CAC's Leslie Jenuleson at DLJenuleson@verizon.net; call 703-814-7000 or email SulCPO@Fairfaxcounty.gov.