The Alexandria City Council last night pronounced itself generally satisfied with the city's 233-member police force and decided unanimously against holding a public hearing on police performance and procedures.
Council member Robert L. Calhoun said he was "very pleased" with an hour-long presentation by Police Chief Charles T. Strobel, as well as with a 48-page report Strobel submitted to the council.
"There have been problems in the vice department and they have been addressed," said Council member Donald C. Casey, in voicing support for the department.
The council's decision was called a "whitewash" by Frederick (Rick) Ford, an attorney who in the past has represented masseuses accused of violating the city's ban on cross-sexual massage.
Ford said "the council should have the benefit of hearing from citizens and taxpayers... rather than only hearing from the police about themselves."
Alevandria police have been criticized by some citizens and a General District Court judge in the past year for using a civilian undercover agent who paid for sexual services at various city massage parlors.
The department's investigation of the still-unsolved slaying of socialite Donita Cutts was recently attacked by a former officer as being sloppy.
Last night Strobel mentioned none of these criticisms, except to say that a factor that attected morale was "negative publicity." He said others included low wages and chances for advancement.
Last week the chief discussed the police department behind closed doors with the council. Last night's meeting was a work session, held in public, although members of the public were not allowed to speak.
Strobel said the average response time to a call for assistance is 3.49 minutes, compared to more than six minutes 18 months ago.
Fire Chief Charles Rule urged the council to consider making installation of smoke detectors mandatory in city homes and said "reasonable progress is being made" in improving the city's water supply for fire department use.