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The Right Note: Public Safety by the Numbers

The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Two years ago, Arlington Democrats picked a new prosecutor in a contentious primary. Parisa Dehghani-Tafti was backed by George Soros to put social justice front and center in the prosecutor’s office.

Since taking office in January of 2020, she took on the Circuit Court judges on the crimes she must prosecute. And she announced earlier this spring she would focus on reducing racial disparities in prosecutions by 20 percent.

The annual Crime in Virginia report from the Virginia State Police is out for 2020. The latest crime statistics gives us one objective measure to look at the effect on public safety during Dehghani-Tafti’s first year on the job.

In 2019, there were 822 simple assaults reported. In 2020, there were 906 or a 10 percent increase. Aggravated assaults are up 40 percent. Vandalism is up 13 percent. Theft from a motor vehicle is up 16 percent. And robbery was up by 27 percent. And while reports of “Group A Offenses” is essentially unchanged, arrests are down by 12 percent.

There were drops in some crimes, including a significant reduction in credit card fraud, which is to be expected with businesses being closed for so long in 2020 due to COVID. Thefts from buildings and drug violations also dropped.

If you want to track crime statistics monthly, the Arlington County Police Department also provides reports. May’s report shows a 16 percent uptick for 2021 over the same period last year.

Dehghani-Tafti used the recent release of ACPD’s 2020 crime report to tout her support for a regional task force to combat carjackings which are up dramatically in 2021. Two weeks ago, Dehghani-Tafti took a ride along with Arlington Police detectives who are trying to stop the spread of car thefts and thefts out of vehicles across the county. She tweeted “Seriously, lock your doors please.”

Dehghani-Tafti also used the event to push back on the idea that insufficient prosecution, or being a “reformer” is the reason for rising crime numbers. She promises to overhaul her office’s case management system to provide data to the public to back up her assertions that her office is focusing prosecutorial efforts “on crimes that are a public safety risk,” including “car tamperings and car thefts.” Hopefully, these numbers are forthcoming soon to show how her office’s reforms translate into measurable data.

If numbers were the only thing that mattered to voters, most of Congress would have been fired for putting us nearly $30 trillion in debt. However, they do give us something objective to measure. And ultimately, the voters will have to use the numbers as they evaluate whether Dehghani-Tafti’s overall job performance deserves re-election in two years.

Mark Kelly is a long-time Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.

The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.

Former participants have this to say:

_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

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Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.

Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.

About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.

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Submit your own Announcement here.

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