If you live in Arlington and there has been a rash of crime in your neighborhood, don't be surprised if you see a photo of your community flash on the television screen.
Starting next week, Arlington residents who subscribe to cable television will be able to tune in on Channel 31 to "Police Beat."
The new program, put together by the county, is designed to let the public know what kind of crime is occurring in their Arlington neighborhoods, where it is happening, and what residents can do about it.
The show is the first of its kind in Northern Virginia. Paid for by Arlington's Department of Community Affairs, it is being put together by members of the police department and filmed by Arlington public high school students at the county's Career Center.
"We had the idea over 2 1/2 years ago," said Tom Bell, the county's police department spokesman, who explained that the department has just recently been able to put the package together.
Bell said the show will be aired on a six-month trial basis. He said each episode of the 30-minute program will be shown several times and will highlight criminal activity in the county during the month preceding the show.
Bell, who will host the program, will be talking on the show to Detective Bob Kirschner from the crime analysis unit and Detective Gregory Kurasz from the crime prevention unit.
On the "Police Beat" debut March 14, cable subscribers -- about 32,400 of Arlington's 80,000 households -- will be told of eight recent series of crimes in the county.
Among those discussed will be a series of residential burglaries in the Ballston-Virginia Square area that have tended to occur on Tuesdays; a series of burglaries in the Arlington Ridge Road area between South 20th and South 24th streets, which have been happening on Friday and Saturday nights; a series of car thefts in the Aurora Highlands-Crystal City area, and a series of indecent exposures in the Williamsburg area.
As Kirschner tells the audience about the incidents, a large multicolored backlit map, which cost the county $2,000, will light up specific neighborhoods with the help of an electronic spotlight. "Down the road," Bell said, photographs of the areas may be added.
"The idea here is to get information to citizens to make them more aware," said Bell, who will devote a section of the program to showing photos of those wanted for crimes in Arlington. "But it's a two-way thing," he added, explaining that the police department is hoping to get help from residents in identifying criminals.
"I think it will cause us to make a lot more arrests," Bell said.
Bell said the police department plans to send letters to the presidents of the county's Neighborhood Watch groups to advise them of the show and ask them to alert others to the program as well as send in feedback to the department.
Kurasz, who will discuss crime prevention on the program, said he thinks the show is a good way to reach a lot of people quickly. "I'm hoping it will keep the citizens involved," he said.
Although there is no way to determine how many people will view the program, the numbers could be high. Judith Segel, acting county cable programming coordinator, who has helped spearhead the program, said she believes the audience for the show is there.
"Look at the shows on television. Look how concerned they are with crime," she said. "As a people we are interested in this kind of thing. If it makes sense on commercial television, it's a topic that's going to draw."
The first episode of "Police Beat" will be shown March 14 at 8 p.m., March 15 at 10 a.m., March 18 at 7 p.m. and March 23 at 1 p.m.