- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Gates at a Fairfax County police station where an 18-year-old fatally shot two officers last month have needed repairs more than 25 times in the past two years, government records show.

Work orders and complaint logs show that since Aug. 2, 2004, the two gates at the Sully District station in Chantilly have lost power and been stuck open on numerous occasions

The Sully station is equipped with two security gates. The main gate operates on rollers and provides entry to the back lot, and the other — a swinging gate — serves as an exit onto Stonecroft Boulevard.

A memo dated Oct. 7, 2004, from an official in the county’s Risk Management Division to police department officials says that the entry gate was inoperable during an Oct. 1, 2004, inspection and that the gate “has malfunctioned on a regular basis.”

On May 8, the gate was only manually operational and was in the open position when Michael Kennedy drove onto the lot in a stolen van with an AK-47-style assault weapon, a high-powered rifle and five handguns, and fatally shot Detective Vicky O. Armel and Master Police Officer Michael E. Garbarino. Kennedy was killed by return fire from police.

The Washington Times obtained repair records on the gates through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“It’s tragic that it took the death of these two fine young officers to bring to light a problem that has existed for decades with police facility security,” said Officer Marshall E. Thielen, president of the Fairfax Coalition of Police, Local 5000, which has said it is considering taking legal action.

According to work orders filed with the Fairfax County Technical Services Bureau, the “rear” gate — which county officials have confirmed was the entry gate — was stuck halfway open on March 22 of this year.

The county contracted with Woodbridge-based Door Systems Inc., and after a repairman inspected the gate March 22, a replacement part was ordered. He returned to install a sensor on April 10 — the last time the gate had been worked on until it was replaced after the shooting, according to records.

Door Systems officials did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

Records show that Door Systems has provided preventive maintenance to the gates since May 8 and that workers with Long Fence and Door Systems replaced the entry gate after the shooting.

A history of work orders for the three-year-old entry gate show that its rolling design was considered problematic and that parts to repair the gate were difficult to acquire.

Construction of the entry gate lingered beyond the May 2003 opening of the police station, which was built by District-based contractor HRGM Corp.

In July 2003, D.C. government officials fired HRGM for defaulting on a contract to renovate a historic Northwest firehouse. In August 2003, the contractor was also fired for nonperformance from a job renovating a D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles inspection station in Northeast.

A Feb. 24 e-mail from Walter Rosch, who is with the construction management division of the county’s Department of Public Works, said officials with Door Systems recommended that the county use swinging gates instead of the problematic sliding gates.

The documents also show that more than 20 complaints of gate problems at county police facilities have been filed so far in 2006. Fairfax County has since adopted a preventive maintenance program “to try to prevent breakdowns and try to ensure that [gates are] working efficiently,” county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said.

The Board of Supervisors voted Monday to place a $150 million bond proposal that would provide funds to improve security at county police and fire stations on the November ballot if approved.

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