Neighborhood Watch Update

Image result for images for neighborhood watchBy Chuck Foster

This article offers two news items.

First, periodically a resident of the cluster will tell me he/she is uncomfortable calling the police because of uncertainty about what circumstances justify making a call. Fortunately, we have a recent example to consider: 

Last month, one of our residents was walking to the shopping center and observed a vehicle parked in a cluster space with the engine running and the windows closed. A man was inside with the seat reclined. The temperature was in the low 40s. After returning from the shopping center, the resident again observed the vehicle in the same location and condition. The resident felt the situation was odd and started thinking about possibilities. Could the occupant be experiencing some kind of medical emergency? Is the occupant at risk of succumbing to carbon monoxide? While walking home, the resident was unsuccessful in being self-convinced that everything was okay. So, the resident called the police non-emergency number, described the situation, and asked if a welfare check was justified. The police agreed and sent a police officer and a medical unit to check on the vehicle’s occupant. Later on, the resident observed the units leaving the cluster with the vehicle remaining in the same location. The resident did not inquire about the outcome of the event.

If faced with similar circumstances, would you have made the same call? In this case, the resident likely used a combination of analysis, intuition, compassion, caution, and conscience to make a quick decision. Every situation is unique, and every person is unique; so the call/no-call decision is necessarily case-by-case. When you consider that the police department and the fire department are “public safety agencies,” one could make a strong case that this resident’s call was the right thing to do.

Second, the Virginia State Police recently published the comprehensive annual report titled “Crime in Virginia 2018.” The 502-page report can be found on the website of the Fairfax County Police Department under the link labeled “Crime Statistics.” The report is fascinating if you are a crime-stats geek. What follows are just a few of the tidbits I found particularly interesting:

  • Crime declined in 2018 versus 2017 in 16 of the 23 most serious categories of offenses (“Group A” offenses). The seven categories that showed increases were kidnapping/abduction, sex offenses, aggravated assault, extortion/blackmail, motor vehicle theft, drug offenses, and pornography/obscene material.
  • A substantial majority of the victims of rape, aggravated assault, and kidnapping/abduction knew the offender (e.g., spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, family member, neighbor, or acquaintance).
  • The highest percentage of offenders committing robbery were between the ages of 18 and 34. The highest percentage of the victims of robbery were over the age of 34. 
  • The primary entry point for residential burglaries was a door or window. The primary form of “security” was a lock. The entry point was evenly divided between the front and rear of the dwelling. The highest percentage of burglaries occurred between noon and 6pm and on Mondays and Fridays.
  • The highest percentage of larcenies was shoplifting and theft from a motor vehicle, with most of those occurring on Mondays and Fridays.
  • Motor vehicle theft was primarily from residential property with occurrences concentrated between 6:00 p.m. and midnight on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.         
  • Assault on law enforcement totaled 1,452 incidents. The majority of incidents were between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • In Fairfax County, the top five reported crimes by known category were simple assault, destruction of property, shoplifting, drug offenses, and larceny.     
  • Of the 37,102 of Group A offenses reported to the Fairfax County Police Department, 13,027, or 35%, resulted in an arrest. Juvenile arrests represented 2,146, or 16%, of the 13,027. Shoplifting and destruction of property had relatively low arrest percentages. Drug offenses had a relatively high arrest percentage.


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