- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

DISTRICT

Fenty signs broad crime bill

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on Thursday signed a broad crime bill that he said will toughen laws and help deter criminals in the city.

The bill, which goes into effect on an emergency basis, increases penalties for repeated offenses for violent crimes, and expands hate-crime laws to include homelessness as a protected category. It also requires the mayor to create a gang and crew intervention group to work on combating youth violence.

In addition, the wide-ranging measure covers areas such as mental health records, identity theft, stalking and firearms penalties.

The Fenty administration introduced the bill last fall and it was later revised. The D.C. Council gave its final approval last week.

New pediatric unit to be built in city

D.C. officials are hailing the start of construction of the first pediatric emergency department east of the Anacostia River.

The District is paying $11 million out of the total cost of $14 million for the department at United Medical Center. It’s part of a broader D.C. government initiative to enhance medical care in underserved neighborhoods.

Currently, critically ill children brought to UMC must be stabilized and transported across town to Children’s National Medical Center.

UMC was known as Greater Southeast Community Hospital before it was bought by Specialty Hospitals of America in 2007. The hospital currently serves from 7,000 to 8,000 children per year. Officials expect the new center to serve 15,000 children a year.

The expected completion date is March.

VIRGINIA

MANASSAS

Police Taser use found lawful

An internal review by Prince William County Police has found officers acted appropriately when they deployed a Taser while arresting a man and woman at a party.

Officials said Thursday that an investigation shows the July 26 arrests of Edgar Rodriguez and Leticia Elias were lawful and appropriate. The two were taken into custody during a family party at Mr. Rodriguez’s Manassas home.

Police said they received a noise complaint and found Mr. Rodriguez “highly intoxicated.” They say he refused to turn down the volume of music playing and to identify himself.

Police said family members tried to interfere with the arrest, and a large group approached the officers, who then called for backup. Officers used a Taser on Mr. Rodriguez and Miss Elias and arrested them. The two face charges including resisting arrest.

BEDFORD

Park Service assesses D-Day Memorial

A federal team will assess whether the financially troubled National D-Day Memorial is suitable to be a national monument.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in a letter Thursday he has asked the National Park Service to send an assessment team to the Bedford memorial.

Virginia’s congressional delegation has asked Mr. Salazar for a presidential proclamation to turn the private memorial over to the federal government.

D-Day Foundation President William McIntosh said he doesn’t know yet when the Park Service team will tour the site.

Mr. Salazar said in his letter that the memorial is a symbol of the courage and sacrifice of U.S. and Allied troops during World War II who began the liberation of northwest Europe.

FAIRFAX

30 snakes die in house fire

Fairfax County firefighters say 30 nonvenomous snakes died in a blaze in the Kingstowne area. There were no injuries to people, but a family of five was displaced.

The fire was reported about 8:40 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters found heavy smoke upon arrival at the single-family, two-story home.

Officials said the accidental fire was caused by an extension cord. Damage is estimated at $90,000.

Animal-control officers helped firefighters rescue snakes and other reptiles that survived the blaze.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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