Archive for May, 2015

Prince William County Crime Rate Lowest it’s Been in 24 Years

The Prince William County Police Department recently released its 2014 Crime Report, which shows that the crime rate in the county continues to decline.

In 2014, the overall crime rate was 14.5 crimes per 1,000 residents. That’s down from 2013 when the crime rate stood at 16.14 crimes per 1,000 residents. In 2010, the crime rate stood at 19.2, according to the report

“We’ve actually seen rates that have been dropping very steadily since the early ’90s when we peaked,” said Prince William Police Chief Stephan M. Hudson. “We’re now at a point where our 2014 overall crime rate is 14.5, which is the lowest it’s been in 24 years.”

Part I crimes, which include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, arson, aggravated assault, larceny and stolen vehicles, declined by 9.4 percent overall in 2014. Property crime accounts for the majority of Part I crimes with 91.6 percent.

The only increase seen in Part I crimes was in aggravated assaults, which increased from 188 in 2013 to 257 in 2014; however, Hudson said that increase was likely due to a new law. “One piece of that is that the law changed in 2013, which encompasses the act of strangulation. So, now in the state of Virginia, if somebody strangles another person, whether it caused them to black out or any further damage occurs, that act in and of itself is now classified as felony. Those incidents encompass the largest portion of our increase.”

In 2014, there was an increase of 69 total aggravated assaults in Prince William County. Of those 69 aggravated assaults, 45 were the result of strangulation, the report stated.

Robbery decreased 14.9 percent from 228 to 194 in the last year, and burglary dropped from 664 to 601 or 9.5 percent in the last year. Larceny decreased by 10.9 percent from 2013 to 2014; and motor vehicle theft declined by 8.7 percent, the report showed.

Hudson said it’s hard to point to any one of several factors that lead to a decrease in crime. He attributes much of the decrease in the overall crime rate to the community, with more than 350 neighborhood watch programs across the county. “We have one of the most engaged communities of anywhere around us. Citizens are very observant. They’re very attentive. They report suspicious activity. They partner with the police department very collaboratively every day.”

Hudson also gives the police department some credit. “I certainly think that the good work of the police officers in Prince William County and the very high professionalism here is a causal factor, as well. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the number one factor is that partnership between the community and the police department.”

While many of the surrounding jurisdictions have yet to release crime reports, Hudson said Prince William County has consistently turned in some of the lower statistics in the area and will continue on that trend. “We have historically ranked in the lowest third in crime in the … National Capital Region. That’s actually one of our strategic goals… I have no doubt in my mind that at 14.5, we’re still going to be in the lowest third. I think it’s one of the safest places to be in our entire region, and… the statistics bear that out.”

In addition to the decrease in crime rate, the Police Department continues to see closure rates above the national average. The closure rate for violent crime is 71.5 percent, well above the national average of 48.1 percent in 2013 (2014 data is not yet available). The closure rate for property crime also exceeds the national average with Prince William County closing 23.5 percent of cases compared to 19.7 percent nationally.

For more information about the Crime Report and the Police Department, visit www.pwcgov.org/police.

Groundbreaking Kicks Off Route 28 Projects

​A recent groundbreaking ceremony in Sterling kicked off a number of Va. 28 road projects set for Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax counties and the City of Manassas. 

Prince William Supervisor Marty Nohe, who is also chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, or NVTA, said the road presents challenges along its entire route. “Route 28 is one of the major sources of gridlock in the region.”

The NVTA, which brings Northern Virginia jurisdictions and agencies together to identify and prioritize transportation projects and plan for solutions, is set to spend $99 million improving Va. 28 across the region. 

Two of those projects are in Prince William County. A widening project in Prince William County will improve Va. 28 between Linton Hall Road and Fitzwater Drive, taking Va. 28 from a two-lane undivided highway to four-lane divided highway. Work on that project is under way.

The Linton Hall Road to Fitzwater Drive portion of the widening project will be done in two phases. The first phase, between Linton Hall and Vint Hill road is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2016. The county is acquiring rights-of-way for the second phase, between Vint Hill Road and Fitzwater Drive, which is scheduled to be completed by the middle of 2017.

A future widening project, between Linton Hall Road and the Va. 234 Bypass, will take the road from a four-lane undivided highway to a six-lane divided highway. Sidewalks and multi-use trails will run along both projects, Nohe said.

Any work on Va. 28 will ease congestion in the region since traffic problems stretch well beyond where they originated, Nohe said. “One of the challenges we have on Route 28 is that a traffic incident near Dulles Airport can create congestion all the way into Prince William County.”

Nohe said the widening will help with commutes and give people better access to their jobs. “These projects are vital to the economic success of Prince William County.”

Nohe called the groundbreaking a “truly a historic” day in Northern Virginia. “It takes a region of dedicated leaders, elected officials and professional transportation staff to identify funding and to build transportation.” 

According to the NVTA, the improvements and widening projects will make commuting easier for 125,000 drivers daily in Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the City of Manassas.