Photo: Sydney Paul
Crime prevention, recent crime trends, car thefts and murders topped the list in a discussion between Arlington County Police Department officials and community members at a public forum Oct. 17, at the Madison Community Center.
Police said overall there has been a downward trend in criminal activity.
Police Chief Doug Scott said robberies and aggravated assaults have made notable drops compared to this time last year.
This could not be said about homicides, rapes and sexual assaults.
Police said the county has recorded four killings since January, all four occuring between July 24 and Aug. 7. These are the first homicides to occur in the county in the past two years, police said. This week another death of a man in his 80s has been listed as suspicious.
Scott emphasized that years of low activity do not mean that residents should let their guards down.
“The two years that we didn’t have a homicide—in many, many cases—we were just lucky,” Scott said.
Other concerns about the safety of women were raised.
“You just see so many of those reports about women being grabbed walking on major streets, on bicycle paths…around the metro,” said Sarah Shortall, a resident of Waverly Hills.
The department’s crime statistics report showed an increase in rapes and sexual assaults. There were six reported in 2011 compared to 10 this year as of Sept. 30, police statistics show.
Police said they have been making efforts to educate community members on how to be aware of one’s surroundings in places such as bike paths and poorly lit areas.
Police said vehicle thefts have been lower in Arlington than the rest of the region. The police department’s crime reports show 13 car thefts in the past month.
“I would attribute it, one, to the detective work that’s going on, but the license plate readers have been really helpful,” Scott said.
Police said they have made a lot of arrests off the readers, which are cameras attached to police cars that can automatically scan plate numbers.
Police said that trends show more motorcycles and bicycles have been stolen. Auxiliary Lt. Heather Hurlock said that securing your bike with a U-lock is the best way to prevent theft.
Over 230 bikes have been stolen this year. All used cables and chains to secure the bike to the post, Hurlock said.
“I can cut through a cable or a chain in approximately 20 to 30 seconds,” she said.
The police department receives 50 to 100 reports per day and an officer’s job varies day-to-day, police said.
The Madison center is within the department's first district. Three more forums are scheduled to address District Two (North and South) and District Three.