On some nights, Roy Ortutay walks through the neighborhoods of Brambleton and South Riding wearing dark clothes and shining a flashlight into cars parked on the street. He’s looking for cars that have been left unlocked or that have valuable electronic items visible inside. When he finds what he is looking for, he takes action.
Fortunately, Ortutay is not a thief. Rather than breaking into the vehicle, he is apt to write a note on the back of his business card and stick it in the car door: “Don’t leave your GPS in plain view.”
It’s all part of his job. On May 30, the Loudoun County sheriff’s officer was appointed to serve as the first community resource deputy permanently assigned to the Dulles South Station area. He covers a large swath of southeastern Loudoun that includes the neighborhoods of Brambleton, South Riding, Stone Ridge, Kirkpatrick Farms and several smaller communities.
Loudoun Sheriff Michael L. Chapman says that the Community Resource Unit uses community policing and crime prevention strategies in targeted neighborhoods to address quality-of-life issues that often lead to criminal activity.
“This partnership enhances problem solving through close coordination with the community, homeowners associations, businesses leaders and elected officials,” Chapman said. “For a community, this can lead to an improved quality of life and a reduction of crime.”
According to Ortutay, the key to his role as a community resource deputy is building partnerships.
“That’s the foundation of community policing,” he said. “You’ve got to have the partnership between law enforcement, the businesses [and] the homeowners associations. Because if they have somebody they can come to that they know, that they work well with, a lot of things can get done, a lot of problems can be solved and a lot of issues can be taken care of at a much lower level, so they don’t explode into something bigger.”
Ortutay said that one way he builds partnerships is by being visible in the community. “I patrol all the time,” he said, on foot, on his bicycle or in a vehicle. He also tries to teach people how to avoid being vulnerable to crime.
“You’d be amazed how many times I’m driving through the neighborhoods at night and I see garage doors open,” he said. “I’ll wake people up at 12:30 at night. I bang on their door, I wake them up and I explain to them, ‘This is how you become the victim of a crime. This is preventable. Lock your doors.’ ”
He said he works closely with the homeowners associations in Dulles South and attends as many meetings as he can. He works in partnership with other county agencies, including the health department, zoning enforcement staff and elected officials.
Ortutay is also working to build relationships with the business community. He said that when he was first assigned to Dulles South, a shopping center in South Riding had reported some minor issues that were “related to juveniles.” He went to each business, handed out his business card and then followed up with foot and bicycle patrols. “They see me, and [they know] that they can contact me if they need me,” he said.
An 11-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, Ortutay previously served as the community resource deputy in the Sterling area for six years. He acknowledged that the move to Dulles South posed the challenge of learning a new area.
“In Sterling, I knew who all the people were that I needed to keep an eye on,” he said. “I knew all the places I needed to watch. Here it’s a learning curve. You’ve got to learn all that stuff again.”
Jim Barnes is a freelance writer.