Arlington’s Crime Rate Falls Again, Though Alcohol-Related Incidents Increase

Arlington’s crime rate fell for the sixth straight year in 2017, even as the county recorded some big jumps in alcohol-related misdemeanors, according to new police data.

The Arlington County Police Department released its annual report for the past year on Monday (May 14), showing that the county’s overall crime rate dropped by just over 7.7 percent in 2017.

That includes drops in the number of several types of more serious crimes, like robberies and car thefts, though the county did see a roughly 4 percent increase in aggravated assaults. Arlington police also investigated four murders last year, after recording just one in 2016, but the department has managed to close all of those cases.

Police recorded some of the largest increases in crimes related to alcohol, with a nearly 73 percent jump in liquor law violations and a more than 17 percent jump in various “drunkenness” charges. In all, the county’s 129 liquor law violations included 62 underage drinking charges and 28 charges for drinking alcohol in public, according to the report. Police also recorded confiscating 703 fake IDs last year.

The department noted that some of those increases could be attributed to officers spending more time policing downtown Clarendon, in particular, as part of its “Arlington Restaurant Initiative” to step up the police presence in the area.

County police recorded a significant increase in “officer contacts” in designated “nightlife areas,” with a 56 percent jump in the number of interactions they recorded around neighborhoods with large concentrations of bars and restaurants. However, with the department’s plans to shift its resources to cope with a staffing squeeze, Police Chief M. Jay Farr recently warned that police may not be able to station as many officers in Clarendon moving forward.

Like many other communities across the country, Arlington recorded a large uptick in the number of opioid overdoses last year. In all, police responded to 74 overdoses in 2017, with 19 of those proving to be fatal. In 2016, the county saw 45 total overdoses involving drugs like heroin and fentanyl, and 12 were fatal.

Finally, county police recorded a 7 percent drop in traffic accidents last year. However, the department did register an especially large bump in accidents involving bicycles — from 32 in 2016 to 80 in 2017 — but they believe an increased focus on bike safety last spring helped contribute to the larger number there.

Similarly, Farr believes police will also have less time to devote to traffic enforcement under the department’s restructuring plan, which took effect on Sunday (May 13).

Charts via Arlington County Police Department