Capt. Carol Wilhite, the new commander of the Mason District Station, discussed upcoming initiatives for the station with Mason District residents during her first introductory Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting Tuesday night at the Mason District Governmental Center in Annandale.
Wilhite, the former assistant commander of the Fair Oaks District Station, replaced Capt. Gun Lee as commander last month after he announced plans to move to the Major Crimes division of the Fairfax County Investigation Bureau.
[Read more on Patch: Carol Wilhite to Replace Gun Lee as Mason District Station Commander]
"I'm really glad to be here," said Wilihite, who took command of the station on March 9.
Wilihite has been a member of the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) since 1990 and has worked in a variety of divisions within the department. She started her career at the Franconia District Station where she worked on patrol for four years prior to handling financial crimes such check fraud and burglaries at Springfield Mall. She worked at the Mount Vernon Distrit Station prior to becoming a second lieutenant at the Fair Oaks District Station and she worked in internal affairs for three years. Wilihite also worked as an an assistant to current Acting Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. when he was the deputy chief of patrol.
As station commander, Wilihite said she plans to focus on two big initiatives: pedestrian safety and decreasing the amount of solicitation in Mason District by woodchuckers, or people who go door-to-door offering services to residents such as cutting down trees or mowing lawns in exchange for payment.
According to Wilihite, there's been a 71 percent increase in fatal pedestrian accidents in Mason District compared to 2012. In about 98 percent of those accidents, the pedestrian, not the driver, is at fault, Wilihite said. To achieve the second initiative, Wilihite asked those in attendance for help in notifying police when solicitors are around.
"If you see these people in your area, even if they don't knock on your door, call us," said Wilhite. "The more intelligence we can gather from citizens, the more capable we are of solving crimes."
Lt. Archie Pollard, assistant commander of the Mason District Station, told the audience that solicitation is not a crime as long as the person has a solicitor's permit. Pollard and Wilihite both cautioned residents to remain vigilant in order to avoid being taken advantage of by solicitor promising or agreeing to do work for pay.
"Being a solicitor is not a crime, but we often find that as people are victimized, the victmization begins with someone offering a service to someone at their home," said Pollard. "What is a legal enterprise to go out and solicit sometimes has predatory behaviors in the shadows of a legitimate transaction... A lot of it really is just awareness on our part in the Mason community.
When asked about the serial groper who has attacked 24 women to date in the Springfield area, Wilhite said one of the difficulties police may have in catching the serial groper is the generic description of the suspect.
"If you walk down the street abnd you have a group of people who share the same characteristics, how do you pick him out?" said Wilhite.
The next CAC meeting is Tuesday, May 7.
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- Capt. Gun Lee Leaving Mason District Station
- Mason District Station Gets New Commander