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.

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31 responses to “Those Progressive Prosecutors: The Sky Hasn’t Fallen”

  1. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    I don’t know that you can make any decent conclusions without a lot more data. Are arrests down due to police being defunded/demoralized? Are charges down due to prosecutors using discretion? Are what used to be crimes not being called crimes and making things look better?
    The Parkland shooter should have been out of school, but Obama Ed dept guidance punished if there was “disparate impact” so Cruz got away with it because the school didn’t want bad stats. And the EU, facing crisis, self-inflicted, has decided to re-define sustainability so they can use fossil fuels and stay true to their virtue signal green religion.
    Anyway, there are too many variables to really make a firm conclusion…

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      Wow… that was just pitiful… C’mon, Walt, I know you can rant better than that!!

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Walt generally has no problem jumping to conclusions. Can’t imagine why he’s hesitant now.

        1. walter smith Avatar
          walter smith

          Have fun haters. Still did not address the points made. Apples and oranges. Lies, damn lies, and statistics. There are too many variables to say anything with any degree of certainty, which in Larry’s SCIENCE! world would be called standard deviations or “confidence intervals.” Sorry if that offends, but it is too early to tell and the data is incomplete (and likely needing a lot of massaging and sorting to get commonality). The Brits would say “data are incomplete” and Larry would believe them because they sound smart…

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Are you a fruit vendor? You spent an awful lot of time mashing oranges and apples together.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      This data is not about arrests or charges. The Crime in Virginia report deals with crimes reported.

    3. LarrytheG Avatar

      re: ” I don’t know that you can make any decent conclusions without a lot more data.”

      do you say that to Sherlock and JAB when they say far, far more with far, far less data?

      Does anyone REALLY think that those inclined towards criminal behavior check the current clearance rate or prosecutorial policies before they do what they do?

      such foolishness from Sherlock and JAB – same old , same old law & order blather!

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        And your stupid article relates…how?
        Be nice if you guys actually knew how to argue a point. But…when you go your usual way, it just reinforces that my point(s) is/are correct. Thanks.

        1. Remember when you were saying that the Biden Administration was intentionally allowing immigration for the express purpose of adding new voters to the Democratic rolls, and that as a part of that intentional strategy you were insinuating they were also allowing drug and human trafficking “on purpose”. That quote ring a bell?

          And why is that article stupid? Because you don’t like what it says? And are you not confident in your arguments that you always have to resort to ad hominem attacks?

          I’m not a Democrat. I just not buying what you are selling.

          1. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            And that article was not relevant to the comment.
            But, if you want to examine why The Teleprompter in Chief is allowing the illegals to flood in, what’s your theory?
            We don’t have a massive influx, illegally? How did the 53 die in a tractor trailer?

          2. Did illegals just start coming across the border in Jan 2021? No, the basis of that argument that this is a new problem is false.

            Do I think they are allowing to increase voter rolls? No. Plus it’s dumb strategy because Hispanics now split between R and D when voting. The Democratic party does it as they believe everyone should have a chance to come to the US. We probably both agree that can’t be the strategy and that the Biden administration is failing currently, but there has to be some amount of immigration. You may want zero, but it’s clear the American economy is currently suffering from a labor shortage, and we are all suffering from high inflation, partially driven by the resulting increase in labor costs. There’s probably a pretty good argument that Trump’s extreme anti-immigration policies may be primarily responsible for today’s labor market issues. Do your best to choke off the inflow of willing workers and see what happens in a few years. I don’t agree with Trump’s policies of separating families at the border. That’s just intentionally cruel and inhumane, as was much of his immigration agenda, but that’s red meat for his people. The truth for me is a tighter border than today.

          3. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            There is just too much wrong in your post, and I need to go to bed.
            Did you actually read your article? I doubt it. The illegal population did not go down is what it concludes, largely because many Leftists and Courts, etc, refused to cooperate. Unsaid was the numbers didn’t go up because he did tighten the border dramatically.
            I said nothing about wanting zero immigration. I want laws obeyed and not to reward lawbreakers – it’s called moral hazard and is real.
            High inflation is due to high labor costs and a tight labor market? Inflation is due to too much money printed from the stupid Covid policies and the even more stupid energy policy. The labor market tightness isn’t because jobs are filled, it’s due to many not working and many jobs disappearing and many on disability, but don’t notice any correlation of timing with the Covid shot!
            Meanwhile, flooding the market with cheap labor suppresses legal Americans’ wages, in the face of inflation, making their plight worse.
            And the separating families at the border canard? Where were you when Obama did it? Maybe, if someone tried to enter illegally and we didn’t take them in, you wouldn’t have this problem to begin with…
            Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Anybody can watch the Super Bowl! Just walk in. No ticket needed. That’s humane and the right thing to do, amirite?

  2. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    Thanx for the breath of fresh air among the sky’s falling crowd sharpening spears to use on prosecutors, police, and dearth of firearms among the citizenry. The several articles share a common set of political critiques.

    You will surely see comments offering other causation points, e. g., Macron’s lack of popularity, Brexit hero resignation, Soros, Obama, et. Al. Your analysis cannot be valid by any measure because it simply can’t after others argued differently.

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Wunnerful news. All places I will not visit unless there is a funeral. I will make an exception for Teddy’s Pizza in Middleburg. Although in Loudoun,It is within a 100 yards of the Fauquier County line.

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Bet you were fun around the campfire in the Boy Scouts.
    “Wait, Jimmie. You said that the slasher fell off the cliff, so how did he manage to show up at the shack 20 miles away 10 minutes later?”

    Oh well, another good story ruint by a dose of reality.

    Speakin’ of Reality… apparently Justice Kavanaugh had to leave Morton’s in DC by the back doorway because some people think they should be immune from other people showing up on the sidewalks berating their bad life choices. Guess he should have had the pecan pie.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Crime is money and money is crime — inversely, that is. As the value of one decreases the value in the other increases.

  6. VaPragamtist Avatar

    I’d be wary of any attempt to simply use 2019 and 2021 data to assess impact of policies for three reasons:

    1. A year-to-year comparison isn’t enough information. Any number of variables can influence changes. You really need at least a 10-year trend line.

    2. 2021 is only year 2 of terms. It takes longer than 2 years for institutional policy to take hold and for societal change to be realized.

    3. COVID is still a variable that impacts all 2020 and 2o21 data (see #1).

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I agree with all that you say. However, those ranting about the progressive prosecutors were predicting immediate dire consequences and have been linking recent increases in crime to their policies. Just look at Jim Sherlock’s recent post on the rise in homicides in Richmond, or Jim Bacon’s posts on shoplifting, or any of Hans Bader’s posts

      1. The only “immediate” impact I warned about concerned crimes that the Soros prosecutors explicitly targeted for supposedly discriminating against minorities. Fewer drug arrests and prosecutions, fewer shoplifting arrests and prosecutions, and the like.

        Yes, I do worry about the “broken windows” effect. When smaller crimes grow unpunished, the criminal element grows emboldened to commit more crimes and worse crimes. For the most part, however, that change in mentality unfolds over time — years. If the broken-windows effect does take hold in Northern Virginia, it may be another year or two before we see signs of it in the stats.

        A note on the shoplifting stats: Once store owners realize that no one will be prosecuted for shoplifting, they stop reporting incidents. Why bother? It’s a waste of everybody’s time if the prosecutor automatically chucks the case. We cannot assume that a decline in the number of shoplifting incidents reported is an accurate reflection of the number of shoplifting cases that actually occur. We’ll have to rely on what the retailers to tell us is happening.

        1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore

          The “broken windows” approach has come under a lot of criticism. Even one of the authors of the original article that gave rise to the concept says that it has been misapplied. He saw it as part of a broader concept of community policing, not a policy in and of itself.

        2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore

          The “broken windows” approach has come under a lot of criticism. Even one of the authors of the original article that gave rise to the concept says that it has been misapplied. He saw it as part of a broader concept of community policing, not a policy in and of itself.

  7. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar

    Unless a prosecutor is affecting the number of arrests by the police, I think a better measurement is the number of prosecutions by type of crime, most especially during the early years of the prosecutor’s tenure. This should be reasonably high most especially in the case of violent, invasive (burglary, breaking and entering) and high-dollar theft or fraud crimes. Then, I’d like to know the number of convictions and guilty pleas against the number of cases prosecuted.

    A reasonable argument can be made that the judicial system could take a lighter hand against first time offenders, absent violent or other serious offenses crimes. But then, over time, one should measure the number of repeat offenders from the group of first-time offenders that were given lighter treatment.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I agree entirely.

      1. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar

        Now if the police stop making arrests that would otherwise be made due to a pattern of non-prosecution or slaps on the wrist, it is a horse of a different color. But at least in Fairfax County, it’s my understanding that this is not the case.–so far anyway.

  8. James C. Sherlock Avatar
    James C. Sherlock

    Good report. My observations:
    – Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties are three of the wealthiest counties in the United States. Police departments are very well funded. These three jurisdictions are dominated by that fact and the fact that their demographics are dominated by government and government-related employees.
    – 2021 was a COVID year. 2019 was not.
    – Fairfax County showed the same major uptrend in homicides in 2021 as did Richmond. That was true even though the clearance rate for homicides in Fairfax County in 2018-20 exceeded the numbers of reported homicides in those years. (shows they cleared cases from previous as well as from current years during that period). See
    – In Fairfax County 2010-20, homicides were committed mostly by white people (107 white,35 Black, 10 Asian). The victims matched the race of the perpetrator almost exactly.
    – Unlike Richmond, which features street homicides, more than half (77) of the murders happened in peoples homes. Only 20 were street crimes, 15 in fields of woods, 13 in parking garage/lot, six in restaurants. Those locations also help explain the high clearance rate in Fairfax County.
    – again unlike Richmond, the category of weapons used were led by knife/cutting instruments (43) followed by handguns (38).

    The only thing Richmond and Fairfax County had in common was the big spike in homicides in 2021.

    As for the prosecutors, the crime numbers may show that a progressive prosecutor makes less difference in crime rates in affluent white counties with well-funded and staffed police departments.

    But net of all that:

    – it is difficult in comparing crime data to draw conclusions from a COVID year when comparing it with a pre-COVID year.
    – the overall demographics and government-centric economies of these three counties are unique in Virginia and perhaps the nation except for Montgomery County Maryland.
    – their wealth brings with it well-funded police departments
    – it is thus hard to draw conclusions about the affect of progressive CA’s in those locations generally because of these unique features.

    If I were to compare crime statistics and related data in Richmond, Norfolk, Portsmouth Newport News and other Virginia cities with one another, I think the similarities would be profound.

    It is those locations that also have but can less tolerate progressive CA’s than wealthy white bedroom communities.

    I noticed, for example, that Alexandria was not included in the sample you chose. I looked at Alexandria homicides 2010 – 2020. High clearance rates because the tax receipts fully fund police departments, like in the three counties you chose.

    But when I looked at all violent crimes in Alexandria in those same years, the clearance rates are low.

    Violent crimes in Alexandria, unlike Fairfax County or Richmond, show cross-race violence. Black offenders outnumber other races more than 2:1, but the numbers of white, Asian and other race victims far exceeds Black victims.

    Overall, it’s complicated, but the three counties you chose as examples of the effects of progressive CAs may be illustrative of nothing but themselves.

  9. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    Meanwhile, in Texas, law enforcement was out fund raising… by which I mean enforcing HOV traffic regulations with weapons at their hip… and they issued a ticket to a pregnant woman who intends to fight it in court… she had her second rider right there in her uterus, she says… officer actually issued a $275 ticket to her… smh…

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I find no fault with the police enforcing traffic regulations, as long as the violations are real. And, of course, they have their weapons on their hips; traffic stops are among the most dangerous situations that police are engaged in. The office never knows what the driver will do while he is walking toward the stopped car.

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        As long as the violations are dangerous or threaten others, I agree – do HOV violations rise to that level? Otherwise, we are arming meter-readers and providing them with authority to kill in our name… with no more reason but raising funds.

      2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        As long as the violations are dangerous or threaten others, I agree – do HOV violations rise to that level? Otherwise, we are arming meter-readers and providing them with authority to kill in our name… with no more reason but raising funds.

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