Crime trends upward across Fairfax County

March 3, 2023

Fairfax County Times

By Taneika Duhaney

At two months into the new year, crimes against person and crimes against property in Fairfax County are on track to outpace 2022. 

The two types of crime are those against persons and those against property. Crimes against a person include assault offenses, homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping, and sex offenses. Crimes against property cover a broader range of offenses, including arson, bribery, burglary, vandalism, embezzlement, fraud, and theft.

In 2022, there were 936 crimes against person cases across the county compared to 1,187 as of Feb. 15. This trend parallels crimes against property, totaling 2,952 for 2022 compared to 3,176 as of Feb. 15, according to data provided by the Fairfax County Police Department.

This data builds on an upward trend in which crimes against person and crimes against property jumped by 10.5 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively, from 2021 to 2022. 

“Our officers, commanders, and Crime Analysis Unit constantly monitor trends within our community to ensure we allocate resources and implement strategies appropriately. Each week, commanders gather at our headquarters to discuss these trends. Commanders share their strategies and collaborate to identify solutions,” said an FCPD spokesperson. 

As the department works to combat the five-year high crime trend, residents continue to post on social media platforms and apps like Neighbors to raise awareness and increase vigilance across the county.  

In addition to residents, county leaders have taken note of this unsettling trend and have sounded the alarm. 

“I recently asked for the preliminary crime rates for 2022 as I was having difficulty reconciling statements by some elected officials that crime in Fairfax County is down with what I’m hearing from residents. It looks like the residents are correct,” said Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity in his Jan. 26 newsletter.

Like Herrity, residents are concerned about the FCPD staffing shortages. A March 2020 to August 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau analysis found that law enforcement employees decreased by 4 percent nationwide.

“Our police department has had to eliminate many of its specialty units (neighborhood policing, speed enforcement teams, etc.) in order to staff patrol positions due to the staffing crisis that the Board [of Supervisors] has been slow to address despite my continued advocacy,” said Herrity. However, FCPD contends that “despite staffing challenges in law enforcement agencies across the country, the FCPD remains dedicated to keeping our county one of the safest jurisdictions of its size. As of Feb. 9, we have an authorized strength of 1,492 police officers and 186 vacancies. Last fall, our department moved to two 12.5-hour shifts and increased our minimum staffing levels. Patrol areas have not been consolidated and remain the same as they have been.” 

As residents and county leaders look to FCPD to stem the uptick in crimes, the department continues to explore various avenues to keep residents safe. 

“Our Crime Prevention and Community Outreach Officers are constantly working to inform the community about the latest trends and ways to help reduce crime. From handing out locks to reduce the Kia and Hyundai thefts, VIN etching events, neighborhood watch programs, Hidden in Plain Sight, home security surveys, and more, we’re working with our community every day to reduce crime,” FCPD said in a statement.

These actions may prove effective. In 2022, research firm SmartAsset ranked Alexandria the sixth safest city out of 200 of the largest cities across the country. 

FCPD continues to encourage community members to report suspicious persons and crimes to help the department identify trends and collect data so resources can be appropriately allocated across the county.