Prince William County Police Department Chief Barry Barnard met with residents at Old Bridge Elementary as part of the department’s “Conversations with the Chief” series.
During the meeting, Barnard took questions from the audience about a variety of community issues, including how staffing officers in areas of Prince William is handled.
“What we try to do is put officers and put police staff on issues that we think put the community the most at risk. That’s how we evaluate things, that’s how we do things…you have 600 plus police officers – how do you decide where to put them, and what they do…we’re always reassessing and adjusting as necessary to make sure that we have people doing the right things,” said Barnard.
One resident asked Barnard about the advantages of “co-habitating”, as the new Central Police Department and Fire Department location in Woodbridge will be on the same site.
“In terms of the construction and the design, and working with them together – because some of these things are only going to be done once, like driveways, and parking lots…so I think, from that perspective, I think for the county and for you, I think there’s some cost savings…operationally I think it’s a win-win…today it’s very important that we have a good understanding of how fire departments and rescue departments operate [together]….we respond to a lot of calls together,” said Barnard.
The presence of MS13 and other gang activity was discussed as well and according to Barnard, it’s nothing new.
“We have gangs in Prince William County, yes. We’ve had gangs in Prince William County since at least the early 90s…and we have a gang unit, we have gang prevention resources, things of that nature. Gangs is an issue that all of [us] address here in the police department…we work on that daily…[we have] a Northern Virginia Gang Taskforce…for us to address that properly, we have to understand gang activity, which we do. We have to understand what do gangs do that put you and I at risk,” said Barnard.
Another resident spoke about the fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), recent raids, and general fear of the police within the Hispanic community in Prince William County.
“If you need help from the police, I encourage you to call us…I want you to know, and I say this all over the county…we work for everyone – I’m your police chief. And I am the police chief for everyone that lives here, works here, resides here, comes through here, worships here, shops here, plays here, visits our parks – whatever. And the officers that work here in the police department – we all work for you. And whether you are a citizen or you have legal residence or you’re undocumented, we work for you,” said Barnard.
To watch the full meeting, click here:
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