Public-safety personnel with a connection to addressing the growing opioid crisis have been honored by Arlington County Crime Solvers.
The Arlington County Police Department’s organized-crime section and Arlington Sheriff’s Cpl. Betsy Rivas received Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Awards for 2022 during an Oct. 6 luncheon at Busboys & Poets in Shirlington.
The theme of the 2022 awards program was “policing with care and compassion,” said Michael Garcia, a local business and civic leader who emceed the event.
Rivas “has made a tremendous positive impact” serving in the medical unit of the Arlington County Detention Facility, which has seen a marked uptick in the number of incoming incarcerees with opioid problems, Sheriff Beth Arthur said at the ceremony.
Arthur praised Rivas for “compassion, empathy and treating all [incarcerees] with dignity and respect,” Arthur said. “She leads by example through her hard work, and will humbly share her knowledge with anyone willing to listen.”
The police department’s organized-crime section works both to eliminate illicit drug transactions in the county, and help those battling addiction, Police Chief Andy Penn said.
“This recognition is very much appreciated,” Penn said. “Their efforts have helped save lives and make a difference.”
On 17 occasions over the past year, Penn said, officers used NARCAN – an opioid-overdose treatment – to bring people back to life following overdoses. In addition, drug-takeback boxes installed across the community have resulted in more than 10,000 pounds of unwanted or out-of-date medications being turned in for destruction, keeping them out of the hands of potential addicts.
Arlington County Crime Solvers president Andres Tobar said the goal of the organization was not just to provide individuals the chance to help solve crimes, but also to support public-safety agencies in the community.
“We want to build on the great work that law enforcement does here but doesn’t get the recognition,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to say we really respect the work you do.”