From Matt de Ferranti <[email protected]>
Subject Arlington's Youth: Safety, Mental Health & Substance Abuse
Date February 21, 2023 8:59 PM
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Dear Friends,

Since I last wrote, several events impacting safety for Arlington's youth while in school and out have led to community-wide concern. 14 year-old, Sergio Flores, died of an apparent opioid overdose at Wakefield High School. At Key Elementary School a threat of gun violence has led to parental concerns. The Arlington County Police Department arrested an 18 year-old for trespassing and charges related to possessing a firearm.

Substance abuse, public safety, and mental health are the three key areas of concern. I have been engaging with our public safety professionals, School Board Members, parents and advocates, and the County Manager, balancing the primary roles these key stakeholders play and my responsibilities as a County Board Member.

[link removed]
Click on this Image to listen to the Arlington Public Schools February 7th Work Session on Substance Abuse starting at 1 hour, 3 minutes and 31 seconds.

The best way to get a full sense of where the work on substance abuse stands is by clicking on the above picture to see the School Board's work session from February 7th. The ARLnow article below can give you a shorter summary.

I believe the work on this challenge must be led on a daily and operational level by our subject matter experts, our public safety, Arlington Public School, and mental health professionals, and that the County Board and School Board must play policy and leadership roles to protect our community's teenagers and children. I also believe that our community and residents can and should play a role.

The details of how we can work together matter, as is reflected in the summary article from ARLnow:
ArlNow Article on Substance Abuse and our Schools ([link removed])
Regarding the County Board's specific actions on this, we were updated via phone and email by staff during the week of Mr. Flores's overdose. On February 7th we received an in-person briefing on public safety issues eligible for closed session.

Since then, Chief of Police Andy Penn has been working to develop an action plan of updated protocols on safety for school communities across Arlington. These updated protocols were reviewed this past summer. In other words, ACPD and APS staff have been working on this issue over the past year and have responded to the events from the last three weeks with urgency.
[link removed]
Short 2 minute 28 second video from the Arlington Addiction and Recovery Initiative regarding Opioids and Addiction.
A few resources on substance abuse:
* For Arlington County's Substance resource line, call 571.302.0327 (tel:5713020327) for assistance connecting to resources (harm reduction tools, treatment, support groups, etc) and/or peer support services.
* Naloxone, or NARCAN, is a safe and effective medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Community members can obtain free naloxone through the mail by: completing an online request form ([link removed]) , by scheduling a 10-minute abridged training over the phone, or by attending a 1-hour virtual narcan trainings ([link removed]) . To schedule a training, E-mail: [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

[link removed]
This 7 minute training can help you learn the basics on Opioids and Narcan Training
In addition to substance abuse resources above, public safety and mental health for our youth have been a focus.

With respect to public safety, the Arlington County Police Department has made an arrest in the case of alleged trespassing at Wakefield two weeks ago. It is both appropriate to mention that specific step and to emphasize that safety at all our schools must be a priority. The work on protocols that I mentioned above is part of what ACPD is doing.

The Board is engaged on several levels in supporting professional public safety. This July we are likely to enact a 10% raise for ACPD to help address staff retention and recruitment. Last year, you may remember, we approved a 13% raise. We are also continuing to develop our community oversight board to help further connect our community with professional and engaged public safety officers. Investing in officer wellness is also a priority.

On mental health, I spoke at the Arlington Democrats breakfast on the topic on Saturday, February 11th. The statistics from our region published by the Northern Virginia Regional Foundation on youth are disturbing: [link removed]. The School Board and the County Board are considering what additional mental health resources we may be able to provide in response to these past three weeks. Hiring for mental health is not easy anywhere, so it is important to both manage expectations and act. We do have resources available to help: [link removed])

In the coming budget discussions, resources for mental health staff and crisis response will be my top priority. We received the Manager's Budget on Saturday. I will be analyzing it fully to see what else we can do in response to the mental health challenges we face in our community.

On an individual level, if you know anyone who is experiencing a mental health or substance abuse emergency call 703-228-5160. For our Children and Youth non-emergency number, call 703-228-1560.

In service of this important work,


Authorized by Matt for Arlington

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