Those Progressive Prosecutors: The Sky Hasn’t Fallen

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been much concern expressed on this blog that the policies of newly elected “progressive” prosecutors in the Commonwealth would lead to increases in crime in those jurisdictions and, perhaps, a dissolution of society. See here, here, here, and here.

Based on data in the recently released Crime in Virginia 2021, these folks can rest easy, at least for now.

I have compared the data for several major crime areas for 2019, the last year before the progressives took office, and 2021, their second year in office in three jurisdictions:  Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties. These three Commonwealth’s attorneys seem to be the ones that have drawn the most ire on this blog.

The results are mixed: increases in some offenses reported and decreases in others. Overall, there does not seem to be a great deal of difference between the number of reported crimes in 2021 and in 2019 under the predecessors to the progressives. If anything, the situation might be a little brighter.

Following is a summary. The details can be found here.

Crime rate: The number of incidents reported statewide decreased from 375,639 in 2019 to 324,558 in 2021. This decrease in the number of incidents combined with an increase in population resulted in a decrease in the overall crime rate per 100,000 population from 4,401 to 3,750, a 14.8% decrease. In the three jurisdictions, the crime rate increased slightly in Arlington, while Fairfax County and Loudoun experienced decreases in their crime rates (Loudoun’s decrease of 16.3 percent exceeded the state’s decrease).

Murder/nonnegligient manslaughter—Arlington: decrease; Fairfax: significant increase; Loudoun: slight increase.

Violent forced sex offenses—Arlington and Fairfax:  slight increases; Loudoun: significant decrease.

Robbery—Arlington: significant increase; Fairfax and Loudoun: slight decreases.

Aggravated assault—Arlington: significant increase; Fairfax:  little change; Loudoun: significant decrease.

Burglary—Arlington: significant increase; Fairfax: significant decrease; Loudoun: little change.

Shoplifting—This category has excited some observers. The number of reported shopliftings decreased significantly in all three jurisdictions.

Summary. While crime has ticked up in Arlington, the number of certain offenses reported in Fairfax and Loudoun has remained relatively stable in 2019 and 2021, and the overall number of offenses reported in those two localities has decreased, along with their crime rates. Therefore, it is fair to conclude that the policies of progressive prosecutors have not served as an incentive for individuals to commit more crimes than usual.