Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is welcoming a drop in car-related crimes, which have trended upwards during the pandemic years.
Preliminary data from the Arlington County Police Department indicates carjackings dropped from 16 in 2020 to eight in 2021, while car thefts dropped from 323 in 2020 to 306 in 2021. Finalized numbers will be published later this year in ACPD’s annual crime report.
“After a temporary rise in car thefts in the first half of the year, our office helped to spearhead the formation of a regional task force, resulting in a marked decrease in car-related crimes in the second half of the year,” Dehghani-Tafti, the top prosecutor for Arlington and the City of Falls Church, said in her most recent newsletter. “Most of the recent car thefts are a result of cars left unlocked, unoccupied and idling.”
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, carjackings soared in Arlington — from one case in 2019 to 16 in 2020 — and the rest of the D.C. area. This uptick prompted more police patrols in the first half of 2021 and, by the summer, a coordinated regional response.
From January through June, ACPD recorded 160 motor vehicle thefts and from July to December, ACPD recorded 146 similar crimes, which is “a good percentage drop,” Dehghani-Tafti tells ARLnow.
Per the 2020 annual report, motor vehicle thefts have a ways to go if they’re to fall back to levels last seen in 2018 and 2019, when there were 171 and 227, respectively.
Dehghani-Tafti said she called attention to the drops in car-related crimes — as well as the zero recorded homicides last year and the lower rates of gun violence compared to other U.S. cities — in her newsletter to provide a counterpoint those who are saying crime is up under her tenure.
Dehghani-Tafti was elected in 2019 on a pledge to reform the criminal justice system by reducing racial disparities in prosecution as well as recidivism and incarceration, and investigating wrongful convictions. Last year, there was an effort to recall her that accused her of offering criminals lenient plea deals.
“[T]he more general point I was making in the digest is twofold: the first is that, contrary to some of the overheated rhetoric in certain quarters, crime remained low and we’ve kept our word in devoting resources to serious crimes, hence our record in the last year, including tackling a number of cold homicide and rape cases; second, I wanted to be intellectually honest that a lot of people deserve credit for crime being low, and to give them thanks for it,” she tells ARLnow.
Specifically, she thanked the Department of Human Services and the county government for funding social services, the Arlington School Board for diverting kids from the criminal justice system — it removed police officers from schools in 2021 — as well as ACPD for its deescalation work and community policing and the Sheriff’s Office for helping to reduce the jail population.
She says the jail population “consistently remains at its lowest levels in Arlington history,” although it has increased from a record low of 209 in June 2020 to 265 in December 2021.
As additional evidence of crime remaining low, she pointed to the zero homicides recorded in 2021 and relatively low rates of gun violence compared to other jurisdictions.
ACPD confirmed that no 2021 deaths have been ruled a homicide, which would be down from three in 2020 and two in 2019. There is, however, an open investigation into the deaths of two people in a Ballston apartment in December.
Two reported deaths in Arlington in 2021 fall outside ACPD’s jurisdiction and reporting: the man who stabbed, shot and killed a police officer outside the Pentagon this summer and the death of a security contractor at the U.S. State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center.
Amid a rise in coronavirus cases, community leaders and the Arlington County Public Health Division are continuing to find ways to target particular demographics for which more outreach is needed.
So far, 70% of the adult population in Arlington and 61.8% of the county’s entire population has at last one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, excluding federal doses, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health dashboard. Nearly 64% of the adult population and 56% of the overall population is fully vaccinated. But these percentages start to vary more when broken down by age group, race and ethnicity.
For example, vaccination rates differ by nearly 20 percentage points between Asian or Pacific Islander and Latino Arlington residents, whose rates surpass 70%, and Black and white residents, whose rates hover around 56-58%. Meanwhile, the age group with the lowest vaccination rate is 25- to 34-year-olds, 59% of whom are vaccinated, while the highest rate is among 16-17 year olds, of whom 96% are vaccinated, according to VDH data.
Some disparities, particularly in sub-groups with larger population counts, can be tied demographic factors. But some data points, especially for smaller population sub-sets, may be tied to estimation errors, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health.
According to VDH spokeswoman Cindy Clayton, certain demographics with smaller population counts can lead to these high percentages.
“This is likely due to estimation error in the population data, especially when the denominator is a small group, like 16-17 year-olds or Native Americans,” she said. (More than 106% of local Native Americans appear to be vaccinated, according to the state dashboard).
The state health department uses census data compiled and modeled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to calculate vaccine percentages at the local level.
“Although efforts were made to use the best available data and methods to produce the bridged estimates, the modeling process introduces error into the estimates,” according to the CDC’s explanation of the demographic data it stores.
Although some numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt, at this point, both community leaders and the county are now tailoring their vaccine outreach efforts toward “myth-busting” and focusing on particular subgroups.
“Arlington continues to encourage everyone 12 and older in Arlington to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities,” said Ryan Hudson, a spokesman for the Arlington County Public Health Division. “Vaccines are free for everyone, and offer the best form of protection against COVID-19.”
The county operates two vaccine clinics, open seven days a week, to accommodate everyone in the community, he said. The division also conducts “field missions” with targeted vaccine clinics at strategic community locations, including libraries.
“Additionally, the County continues to explore creative initiatives (the previously-covered coasters and cocktail napkins; vaccine QR codes at the recent Bands & Brews on the Boulevard; outreach by the Complete Vaccination Committee; etc.),” Hudson wrote.
More recently, the division’s communications have focused on “myth-busting,” which he says is “in an effort to dispel much of the misinformation that exists. Some examples he said include the impact of the vaccine on puberty, fertility, pregnancy and breast-feeding, as well as concern about corner-cutting due to how quickly the vaccine was developed.”
(Updated at 6 p.m.) Striking new research reveals that where children are born in Arlington can have a decades-long ripple effect on their futures, with kids in the county’s more ethnically diverse neighborhoods growing up to make less money and end up in jail at higher rates than their counterparts.
The analysis, compiled by the Census bureau and a team of academic researchers, shows that children born to a family in a wealthy, predominantly white North Arlington neighborhood earn tens of thousands of dollars more, on average, than kids from a more diverse, lower income South Arlington neighborhood. Incarceration rates generally follow the opposite pattern.
These effects largely persist regardless of a child’s race, or the income level of their parents, mirroring results researchers found around the country in creating this new “Opportunity Atlas.” The interactive map combines anonymized data on 20 million people born 30 years ago with granular Census tracts, in order to provide a glimpse of the gaps in opportunity across different neighborhoods nationwide.
Researchers are still sorting out the exact reasons behind these disparities — everything from the quality of local schools to an area’s employment rate could help explain the variations. But officials and public policy analysts increasingly view this data as a key way to guide where government intervention might be most needed to lift people out of poverty, particularly when evaluating which neighborhoods have borne the brunt of decades of racially discriminatory policies.
In Arlington, the atlas helps provide concrete examples of how the split in income levels and diversity between the northern and southern halves of the county affect residents of each neighborhood.
For instance, kids born in the Douglas Park Census tract, an area just off Columbia Pike with the largest share of non-white residents in the county as recorded in the 2010 Census, grew up to record an average household income of $36,000, regardless of their race or income level. That figure is the second lowest in the entire county.
Low-income children, defined as those born to families making $27,000 a year or less, in the area grew up to make $33,000 a year. High-income kids, who were born to families making $94,000 a year, grew up to make about $51,000.
In Nauck, a historically black community, children grew up to earn $34,000 a year, the lowest salary in the county.
Children born to low-income families made $30,000 a year, the lowest figure among that cohort in the county. Kids in high-income families there grew up to make $42,000 a year, again the lowest for the income bracket in Arlington.
People in Nauck are also incarcerated at the highest rate in the county — 4.8 percent of the people studied in the area are currently in jail. That includes 6.9 percent of children born to low-income parents and 1.6 percent of those born to high-income families, rates that are both among the highest in the county.
The results are also striking in the High View Park Census tract, which encompasses the historically black Halls Hill neighborhood, which was literally walled off from its white neighbors for decades in the Jim Crow era.
Kids growing up in the area, of all income levels, went on to make about $44,000 a year, roughly the median for the county. Low-income children, however, recorded the third lowest salary among that group in Arlington, at $29,000 per year. High-income kids went on to make about $57,000 per year, much more towards the county’s median. The neighborhood has the second-highest share of incarcerated residents in the county, with 9.2 percent behind bars.
By contrast, children born in the county’s whitest areas tend to grow up to become considerably wealthier, regardless of their family’s income level.
In the county’s Census tract with the lowest share of non-white residents (an area including neighborhoods like Bellevue Forest, Dover Crystal and Woodmont), children grew up to make an average of $68,000, tied for the second highest salary in the county. Low-income kids recorded that same $68,000 average, as did high-income kids.
Similarly, the county’s second whitest Census tract — an area in Northwest Arlington containing neighborhoods like Country Club Hills and Arlingwood — kids grew up to make $80,000, the highest salary in the whole county. Low-income kids eventually made an average of $51,000 per year, while high-income children made it to $70,000 a year.
And, in the vast majority of the county’s whitest areas, incarceration rates were below 1 percent.
Graphic via Opportunity Atlas
Arlington County has seen a surge in new restaurants in 2015.
The 56 openings this year is compared to a relative lull in new restaurants in 2014, with only 30 restaurant openings.
(The statistics, which come from ARLnow.com’s reporting on new restaurants, are approximate and may exclude certain small restaurant openings and changes in business.)
While fewer in number, the vast majority of the restaurants that opened in 2014 are still in business, a notable achievement in the competitive and volatile restaurant business. There are, of course, some exceptions.
Pizza Vinoteca in Ballston was one of 2014’s most hyped openings and quickest closings. Another one that bit the dust this year was 100 Montaditos, which folded after 13 months in Rosslyn. Other notable restaurant closings, just since May 1, include Bungalow Sports Grill, Jay’s Saloon, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, Johnny Rockets, Ri Ra Irish Pub, Ted’s Montana Grill, Corner Bakery, Charlie Chiang’s, Boston Market and Willow.
The past two years of volatility in restaurant openings followed three years, from 2011-2013, when restaurant openings held relatively steady, with a slight year-over-year decline — 38 in 2011, 37 in 2012 and 36 in 2013. That period brought local restaurants with staying power, like Green Pig Bistro and Copperwood Tavern, and those that fizzled out, from Fat Shorty’s to Red Parrot Bistro to Wiinky’s.
What should Arlington food fans expect in 2016? Anecdotally, there haven’t been many new restaurant announcements as of late, but there are at least three 2016 openings worth watching, and they’re all in the same place: Matchbox, Sugar Factory and Shake Shack are coming to the expanding Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall next year.
Arlington County has released the latest version of its annual Profile publication, a compendium of vital statistics about the county. The 2012 Arlington County Profile includes information about the county’s demographics, economy and cultural resources.
In terms of population, Arlington’s Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) department estimates that there are 99,900 total household in the county. Arlington’s population, meanwhile, will exceed a quarter of a million by 2040, according to CPHD forecasts.
- 2012 Population: 211,700
- 2012 Employment: 227,500 (jobs located in Arlington)
- 2040 Population: 252,400 (est.)
- 2040 Employment: 308,400 (est.)
Government was the top job sector in Arlington, based on 2012 estimates.
- Government: 26.4%
- Professional and technical services: 20.7%
- Hospitality and food: 7.1%
- Transportation and warehousing: 4.5%
- Real estate: 3.7%
- Information: 2.9%
- Finance and insurance: 2.4%
- Construction: 2.1%
- Other services: 21.4%
- Other (including retail): 8.9%
As of 2011, the top ten private employers were:
- Deloitte: 5,100 jobs
- Lockheed Martin: 2,700 jobs
- Virginia Hospital Center: 2,120 jobs
- Marriott International: 1,940 jobs
- Bureau of National Affairs: 1,906 jobs
- Booz Allen Hamilton: 1,400 jobs
- SRA International: 1,360 jobs
- CACI: 1,217 jobs
- SAIC: 1,200 jobs
- Corporate Executive Board: 1,060 jobs
Arlington’s economy remains strong, with low unemployment and high household income. The 2012 median household income in Arlington is $99,600, while per capita income is $78,000. Total retail sales in Arlington came to $3.14 billion in 2011. The residential rental vacancy rate was 4.6 percent while the average rent went up by 2 percent from 2010 to 2011. Arlington’s civilian labor force of 141,073 had an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent as of March 2011.
Arlington’s 2012 tax base was divided between 49 percent commercial and 51 percent residential.
Arlington is also rich culturally. The county had 8 libraries, 149 county parks, 13 community centers, 3 nature centers, 6 senior centers, 120 athletic fields, 118 tennis and basketball courts, and 86 miles of bicycle routes and jogging trails.
Good news, Arlington. According to a new book, we live longer than just about everybody else in the country.
Residents in the Eight District of Virginia — us — and the Eight District of Maryland — another D.C. suburb — live more than 83 years, on average.
That makes the Virginia and Maryland Eighths the congressional districts in which Americans are living the longest, according to the book Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience.
We’ll drink to that.
Arlington’s violent crime rate fell 8.3 percent in 2009, the Arlington County Police Department announced this afternoon. The overall crime rate dropped by 3.7 percent.
There were four homicides in 2009, compared to two in 2008. There has been one homicide (for which an arrest has been made) so far this year.
There were 15 rapes in 2009, compared to 23 the year prior, a 35 percent decrease
There were also 297 vehicles reported stolen in 2009. Vehicle theft in Arlington County has not been that low since the early 1960’s.
“This is very good news for our community,” said Arlington County board chairman Jay Fisette. “In these tough economic times, to see a drop in the overall crime rate, and a significant drop in the violent crime rate, is more evidence that Arlington is a safe place to live — and getting safer.”
“Our officers have accomplished a great deal in the past year combating crime in Arlington and receive notable support from the community,” police chief M. Douglas Scott said. “We continue to enjoy a close working relationship with the community to increase awareness and the practice of good crime prevention strategies.”
If you live in Arlington, congratulations, you live among the most prolific spenders in the country. Personal finance web site Bundle.com has compiled a list of the most spend-thrift cities in the U.S., and Arlington (which is technically a county, but we’ll let it slide this time) ranked fourth, behind Austin, Scottsdale and San Jose. The District placed 11th.
Arlingtonians, on average, spent $56,746 on average household expenses (not including mortgages or rent) in 2009, according to Bundle. That’s $7,315 more than D.C., and $40,300 more than Detroit, the most thrifty city in the country.
Pool photo by mosprott.
Home sales surged by more than 50 percent last month compared to the same period one year ago. Also, average home prices rose 3.4 percent compared to February 2009.
The comparison is a bit skewed, since recessionary jitters kept many people out of the real estate market last winter, and since the credit crisis prevented many would-be homeowners from even getting a mortgage.
More from the Sun Gazette.
We learned that the county received emergency support from the state in advance of Wednesday’s blizzard. Eight front end loader and 16 operators arrived from Richmond Monday night.
We also learned who was driving all those dump trucks and other heavy equipment, seen on main corridors during the height of the storms. Starting on Friday, on the eve of Snowmageddon, the county contracted with the following companies to provide snow removal services: DHC Corporation, Bell Brothers, Inc., Rock Hard Contracting, Inc., Sagres Construction, Inc., Martin & Gass, Inc., and DRC Emergency Services, LLC.
And we now know that the county had to replenish its salt supply twice in the past week. On Monday, the contractors sent 15 trucks to pick up salt from the Port of Baltimore. The trucks made another salt resupply trip Wednesday night. Arlington has used more than 10,000 tons of salt so far this winter.
More extraordinary numbers, after the jump.