The overall crime rate in Prince William County declined from 17.04 crimes per 1,000 people in 2012 to 16.14 crimes per 1,000 people in 2013. In 2009, the Prince William county Police Department reported 19.5 crimes per 1,000 people.
Prince William County Police Chief Steve Hudson, who recently presented a report to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said he attributes the overall decrease in crime to community awareness. “I can certainly point to the fact that we have a very engaged community. Citizens pay attention. They’re observant. They’re willing to call the police when necessary. They’re willing to report suspicious behavior. That certainly contributes to having a safe community with reduced crime.”
Hudson’s report also showed that while the overall crime rate decreased, murders jumped to six in 2013 compared to two in 2012.
Hudson said that murders, which generally happen among people who know each other, are hard to predict and difficult to prevent. Preventing murders, Hudson said, depends on whether police have prior contact with the people involved. If police become aware of a dangerous situation, they might be able to intervene. “It all depends on whether we have any engagement with the situation prior to it blowing up into something that results in a murder. In many cases, we don’t.”
Hudson went on to say that if people who are in dangerous, domestic environments reported to police or social services sooner rather than later, violent crimes such as assaults, rapes and murders might be prevented.
“When people see those kinds of volatile situations worsening in family relationships or friendships, if they get social services or they get public safety involved, they could possibly help to prevent some violent crimes.”
Rapes in Prince William County decreased from 67 in 2012 to 58 in 2013. Between 2012 and 2013, aggravated assaults increased from 168 to 188. Robberies increase from 201 to 228. Burglaries decreased from 889 to 664 at the same time larcenies decreased from 5,367 to 5,310.
Hudson said the overall decrease in the crime rate puts Prince William County’s crime rate below the national average. “If you look back 25 or even 20 years, our crime rate was 40 crimes/1000. Now it’s almost a third of that. We’re typically lower than the national trends, and we’re also typically in the lowest third of the national capital region jurisdictions. Prince William County trends very well in that regard.”
In addition to the statistics in the Crime report, Hudson said police have noticed an upward trend in drug overdoses and abuse of powerful narcotic drugs in recent years, which mirrors national trends. There are ever increasing overdoses from prescription painkillers and heroin. Often people who become addicted to prescription medication will go from doctor to doctor to get painkillers. As their access to pain killers evaporates, they will often turn to illegal drugs like heroin to satisfy their addiction.
Hudson said the public could often help prevent overdoses. “What we find in situations with people who are addicted to prescription pain killers, is that those close to them often know about it. In most cases, somebody who is close to a person with a narcotics or heroin problem is going to observe some of the signs.”
Anyone seeking help for substance abuse should call Prince William County Community Services. For help, call 703-792-7800 (Manassas office) or 703-792-4900 (Woodbridge office).