- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Tom Bell, a spokesman for the Arlington County Police Department for nearly 20 years, died of leukemia April 25. He was 57.

Mr. Bell joined the department in April 1973 and served for five years as a patrol officer. He then was assigned to the Crime Resistance Unit.

In fall 1978, he was transferred to the Office of the Chief to serve as the department’s liaison to the press, apparently after a breakdown in the relationship between the department and the press.

“Tom was a true professional and one of this department’s unsung heroes,” said Deputy Chief Dan Murray, who worked with Mr. Bell for more than 20 years. “Tom developed our first media relations office and built the foundation for the excellent relationship with the media that exists even today, 28 years later. He will certainly be missed by his police family.”

As a public information officer, Mr. Bell was responsible for several innovations, such as a television show called “Police Beat” on the county’s cable station and the development of a crime-prevention jingle that garnered national recognition.

He also represented the department during several high-profile incidents, including the time a patrol officer issued several traffic tickets to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee William H. Rehnquist in 1986 and the arrest of sportscaster Marv Albert on sexual assault charges in 1997.

Mr. Bell was a police department spokesman until his retirement in June 1998.

He also served for nearly 30 years in the military. Mr. Bell was an infantryman with the Americal Division in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.

In 1980, he graduated from the 22nd class of officer candidates in the Virginia National Guard. He served as commanding officer of the Leesburg National Guard unit. Mr. Bell retired from the National Guard in 1997, having attained the rank of major.

In addition, he worked for many years as an announcer and program director for several District-area radio stations such as WASH, WEAM and WXTR.

In a Washington Post Magazine profile titled “Doo-Wop Cop,” Mr. Bell described his two jobs: “Police work definitely offers stability, but broadcasting is so much fun, it’s hard to believe you get paid for it.”

Mr. Bell earned a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from American University and, after retiring from the department, earned a degree in appraisal studies in fine and decorative arts from George Washington University.

His leukemia was diagnosed in 2000.

He is survived by his wife, Marty, of Vienna, Va.; daughter, Jennifer, of Herndon; two grandchildren; and a former wife, Cathy.

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