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Kiser: Crime Remains Low in Prince William

Corey Stewart turned to the press this week to get residents riled up about the need for more police on the streets.

The At-large Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors’ rare press conference on Tuesday drew not only me to the table, but reporters from other online news websites and newspapers that cover the county, as well as a TV reporter from Washington, D.C.

It’s budget season residents want their tax money spent on certain things, such as libraries, parks, and schools. Stewart thinks more money should go to fund the police department and wants to revert back to a plan that predates recession of 2008 tax cuts that calls for hiring 25 new police officers each year.

“One of the reasons for me doing this press conference is to get the citizens engaged,” said Stewart. “It’s the citizenry that is the eyes and ears of the police department.”

Stewart said he approves of the job Chief Stephan Hudson is doing since taking the reigns of the force last year. But he could do better if his department had more funding, he added.

And, while I’m sure he’s right, let’s not forget the crime rate remains low in Prince William County. There were 17.04 crimes reported per every 1,000 people in the county in 2012, down from a 15-year high of 30.3 in 1998.

The rate of violent crime in 2012 – murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults – went up 9% in 2012. But it was really more like 5% because many of the violent crimes that were reported to police that year occurred during prior years.

Statistics show unequivocally that the rate of crime in Prince William County has fallen while its population has ballooned. For that we can thank a highly visible police force that has made it their mission to work with the community to curb crime, to involve them as much as possible during investigations, and to not withhold information about how they operate from residents or the press.

Stewart says his office has fielded more phone calls about crime and about what county officials are doing to curb it since the beginning of the year. Incidents like the murder of 21-year-old Glenda Marisol Coca-Romero who was shot and killed while working in a corner grocer in Woodbridge sparked the majority of those calls.

More police officers could also mean less funding for other things like schools, parks, and libraries, things Stewart says he’s for. But hereminded residents they can’t have everything without a price.

“Citizens also want us to keep their tax bills low, and one thing I’m not going to say is we can do all of those things and keep tax bills flat.”

Uriah Kiser is the publisher of Potomac Local News.

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