Dear Editor:

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, neighborhoods throughout Virginia Beach joined forces with thousands of communities around the U.S. for the 35th Annual National Night Out. I wanted to reflect on some things that I have observed around our city since the previous event.

About this time last year, I noticed that we have added security in the entranceway in the lobby of the city hall building. I have also noticed additional security upstairs, and even an officer sitting in the briefing room with us, in addition to police officers who provide security during those meetings. When I asked, they said that they were provided by the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office. 

In February, as I was sitting outside the city conference room waiting for a seat at the Planning Commission briefing, a young police officer named Mark Malbon approached me. I was surprised that he recognized me. 

I had called for a police officer some years back about a suspicious person that was in my neighborhood. 

When Malbon arrived, my granddaughter was standing behind me holding onto my hand like young children do when they feel it is not safe. After explaining the situation to the officer, my granddaughter tugged at my hand to whisper something to me. She had recognized him because he had come to her school.

He got down to her level, and they spoke about the time that he had indeed come to her school, and he was pleased that he had made a positive impact on her life.

I was pleased to see that he was now in special operations.

As we were catching up, the deputy city manager in charge of public safety, Steve Cover, whisked Malbon and his group away. I did get to chat with Cover about some concerns that I had seen with security the night before during a Virginia Beach School Board meeting. 

There seemed to be a lot of angry folks at the meeting, but there was only one officer in charge. Cover told me that he would contact the school with my concerns. We had no way of knowing that in a few hours after our meeting there would be another school shooting that occurred in Florida. 

With the schools opening soon, I am pleased that we have added all of the safety measures and we have even included the military in our planning. 

I do want my granddaughter’s memories of her school days in Virginia Beach to be the ones described here. Thanks to all involved in making that happen, and I hope that all enjoyed this year’s National Night Out. 

Linda Russell, Cardinal Estates

© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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