Crime-free Rap­pa­han­nock? Not en­tirely, but safer than most places

Rappahannock News - - Front Page - By John McCaslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

Vir­ginia State Po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent and Rap­pa­han­nock na­tive Colonel Gary T. Set­tle has over­seen the re­lease of his de­part­ment’s de­tailed 2018 Vir­ginia Uni­form Crime Re­port, which in­cludes Rap­pa­han­nock County, compiled and pub­lished an­nu­ally in con­junc­tion with the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The 500-page re­port, which tal­lies vir­tu­ally all man­ner of crimes com­mit­ted around the state, al­ways has its ups

and downs de­pend­ing on the cat­e­gory — bur­glar­ies and as­saults to ar­son and kid­nap­pings — although here in ru­ral Rap­pa­han­nock, af­ter an un­usual uptick in un­law­ful in­ci­dents around 2010, crime re­mains rel­a­tively low.

In 2018, ac­cord­ing to the re­port with a fore­word writ­ten by Set­tle, there were a to­tal of 131 of­fenses in­ves­ti­gated in Rap­pa­han­nock County (pop­u­la­tion 7,219 at last count), re­sult­ing in 164 ar­rests, only five of them ju­ve­niles.

An over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of more se­ri­ous Group A of­fenses, which did not nec­es­sar­ily lead to ar­rests, were for drug/nar­cotic vi­o­la­tions (49), sim­ple as­sault (26), larceny (11), de­struc­tion/ van­dal­ism of prop­erty (8), drug equip­ment vi­o­la­tions (6), ag­gra­vated as­sault (5), theft from build­ing (5), theft from mo­tor ve­hi­cle (4), weapon law vi­o­la­tions (3), plus nu­mer­ous lesser of­fenses in­clud­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cle theft (2) forgery (2), and forcible rape (1).

In the less se­ri­ous Group B cat­e­gory of of­fenses, of which there were 98 ar­rests, most were for driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence (40), drunk­en­ness (5), liquor law vi­o­la­tions (4), non-vi­o­lent fam­ily of­fenses (4), and tres­pass­ing (3).

No murders or man­slaugh­ter cases were in­ves­ti­gated in Rap­pa­han­nock County in 2018 (Flint Hill res­i­dent Randy Smoot was con­victed in Au­gust 2018 of man­slaugh­ter in con­nec­tion with the death of Har­ris Hol­low’s Jonas “Jay” Alther, but that crime oc­cured in Oc­to­ber 2017).

The rel­a­tively low crime rate en­joyed in Rap­pa­han­nock can’t be claimed by sev­eral of the larger coun­ties sur­round­ing Rap­pa­han­nock, which re­port far more se­ri­ous crimes given higher pop­u­la­tions. For in­stance, 15,000 peo­ple live in Page County, where there were 223 ar­rests, and with a pop­u­la­tion of 33,000 in Culpeper County there were 994 ar­rests.

As for some of the other unique crimes com­mit­ted in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers around the com­mon­wealth — pocket-picking and purse-snatch­ing, hu­man traf­fick­ing and pros­ti­tu­tion, gam­bling oper­a­tions and sports tam­per­ing — Rap­pa­han­nock County re­mains im­mune for the most part.

At the time the Rap­pa­han­nock County Sher­iff’s Of­fice (RCSO) sub­mit­ted its 2018 statis­tics to the State Po­lice Uni­form Crime Re­port­ing Sec­tion it em­ployed 21 peo­ple: 11 sworn males, 6 sworn fe­males, 2 civil­ian males, and 2 civil­ian fe­males.

Vir­ginia has been pub­lish­ing crime data in an ex­panded for­mat since 1994, when all con­tribut­ing agen­cies like the RCSO were given five years to con­vert their sum­mary sys­tem into an in­ci­dent based sys­tem. The sys­tem was fully im­ple­mented in 2000 and is known as In­ci­dent Based Re­port­ing (IBR).

By use of crime statis­tics, crim­i­nal jus­tice agen­cies can make an in­formed de­ci­sion con­cern­ing the most ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive man­ner in which to ded­i­cate re­sources to­ward the re­duc­tion of crime in their com­mu­ni­ties.

The de­vel­op­ment of the na­tion­wide sum­mary Uni­form Crime Re­port­ing (UCR) Pro­gram be­gan nearly 90 years ago. In 1930, crime counts were first re­quested from lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments, with the FBI des­ig­nated by Congress to col­lect, com­pile, and an­a­lyze the fig­ures. The In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice played a pri­mary role in the ori­gin and de­vel­op­ment of the UCR Pro­gram, while in 1966 the Na­tional Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion es­tab­lished a Com­mit­tee on Uni­form Crime Re­port­ing.

The FBI has ac­tively as­sisted in­di­vid­ual states like Vir­ginia in the de­vel­op­ment of statewide pro­grams of po­lice statis­tics com­pat­i­ble with the na­tional sys­tem. Prior to 1974, no manda­tory uni­form crime re­port­ing law ex­isted in Vir­ginia, and of the 288 agen­cies in the Com­mon­wealth, 162 or 56 per­cent, were vol­un­tar­ily re­port­ing di­rectly to the FBI.

The 2018 Vir­ginia Uni­form Crime Re­port is ded­i­cated to the mem­ory of Of­fi­cer Hunter Ed­wards of the Winch­ester Po­lice De­part­ment, who died in the line of duty this past November at 30 years of age.

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