April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Arlington County Police Department is working on getting all of the county’s restaurants and bars up to speed with a program called Ask for Angela.
After its popularity in England and Scotland, Angela is hopping across the pond to Arlington, Virginia. If a patron feels uncomfortable or sexually harassed, they can ask a bartender or waiter for “Angela”; not an employee or a diner, but a call for help.
“When somebody walks into an establishment and sees the Ask for Angela poster, they know that the staff has been trained. They know that there are policies in place and that they can ask for help if needed, and it’s as simple as asking for Angela,” said Master Police Officer Dimitrios Mastoras, Restaurant Liason Officer for the Arlington County Police Department.
As part of the Arlington Restaurant Initiative, bartenders and waiters are trained to help the customer get a cab or call the police. “You don’t have to vet it, you don’t have to validate it, you just have to ask them what they need and sometimes it’s just a way out of the door and other times it could be calling the police,” said Mastoras.
The Arlington Restaurant Initiative was first developed in 2017. Since October of 2018, the police department has been training restaurants and bars with an ABC license to improve safety, policy and training. So far, the department has trained 23 restaurants.