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Overall Violent Crimes Down, Gun Crimes Up In Alexandria: Police

Patch 3/29/2023 Emily Leayman
The Alexandria Police Department reported an increase in Part I and II crimes in 2022 but noted violent crimes overall declined. © Emily Leayman/Patch The Alexandria Police Department reported an increase in Part I and II crimes in 2022 but noted violent crimes overall declined.

ALEXANDRIA, VA — Part I and II crimes are overall up from 2021 to 2022 in Alexandria as the police department grappled with issues such as staffing shortages, increasing mental health responses and gun-related crimes. The police department provided a presentation of crime data, trends and department initiatives to City Council Tuesday.

Part I and Part II crimes, which are classified by the FBI, are reported annually by the Alexandria Police Department. Part I crimes are considered more serious crimes against people and personal property, including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft. Part II crimes have been described by the police department as "nuisance crimes," such as drug and narcotic offenses, vandalism, DUI, liquor law violations, disorderly conduct, prostitution, and gambling charges.

According to Tuesday's presentation to City Council, Part I crimes increased from 3,210 in 2021 to 3,361 in 2022, while Part II crimes overall increased from 2,000 to 2,330.

Amanda Caligiuri, crime analyst supervisor at the police department, noted violent crime was down despite overall crime increasing from 2021 to 2022.

"This isn't necessarily a violent crime, you know, possession by a felon or carrying without a license," said Caligiuri. "Anything, even if it's not used in commission of violent crime, is counted in that number."

However, Caligiuri noted there has been a regional and nationwide trend of larcenies, vehicle thefts and gun crimes increasing.

Larcenies represent the majority of Part I crimes and increased from 2,421 to 2,593. The next highest type of incident was auto thefts, which rose from 268 to 315.

Homicides totaled six in 2022, compared to two in 2021. There were eight rapes reported in 2022, one less than 2021. Aggravated assaults fell from 241 to 172.

Robberies increased from 83 to 108. However, burglaries decreased from 186 to 159.

The majority of Part II incidents were destruction or vandalisms, which increased from 1,168 to 1,320. Drug and narcotic offenses increased from 193 to 295, while DUIs increased from 219 to 241. There were no reported gambling or prostitution offenses in 2022.

Caligiuri said some Part II crimes such as alcohol offenses reflect a natural increase in crimes as people get out after COVID-19 closures.

"These are largely officer driven arrests, so our officers are out where the citizens are and addressing those concerning behaviors," said Caligiuri.

Gun Incidents, Staffing Challenges: Trends From 2022

Gun-related crime, which have trended up nationally, was one of the 2022 trends addressed in the police presentation. According to police, gun-related incidents may reflect different types of crimes but increased from 76 to 152 incidents from 2021 to 2022.

Tuesday's presentation included a "heat map" of where gunshots calls came from between 2018 and February 2023. The police department noted not all gunshot calls result in evidence of gunshots being found at the scene.

To address the firing of gunshots and use of guns in crimes, the police department is piloting a gunshot detection system, Assistant Chief Easton McDonald told City Council.

"The gun detection has to go where shots are being fired to monitor that," McDonald said.

Another takeaway from 2022 has been that mental health responses have been a growing concern since the COVID-19 pandemic.

"On average, each mental health call takes about 35 hours. And that's not staff hours, that's from the time we get that call to the time that they receive help," said Caligiuri. "And this is a huge amount of time. Officers are assigned one to one when they're in the hospital, and two to one for those transports. So it's a huge draw on sworn staffing."

Caliguiri is hopeful times for mental health calls to be resolved will be lower in next year's report due to the Alexandria Co-Response Program (ACORP) for mental health calls. According to data from the ACORP program, there were 2,387 behavioral health calls from October 2021 to September 2022, and 60 percent resulted in referrals to services. Only 2 percent of 911 calls with ACORP responses resulted in arrests.

Staffing shortages have also had an impact on the police department's responses in 2022. Last summer, Police Chief Don Hayes announced adjustments to how officers respond to calls due the staffing challenges.

At full staffing, the police department has 322 sworn staff. Hayes told City Council on Tuesday that the department is still experiencing staffing shortages. Of approximately 70 positions needing to be filled, 21 are current staff out for reasons like disability or military service, 20 are recruits being trained in the academy, and 21 completed the academy and are completing field training. Nine sworn positions remain unfilled.

"We're still, as we speak right now, having our some of our specialized units come back to patrol so that we could answer the calls for service," said Hayes.

City Manager Jim Parajon expressed optimism that the unfilled positions only totaled nine.

"That means that the level of recruitment, the level of retention has been fantastic, a lot of creative things that were done there," said Parajon. "The ability to leverage the collective bargaining agreement, some of the salary adjustments that were done in the past, also the leadership in the department, that's very significant."

Mayor Justin Wilson remarked the city has gotten through a challenging time for crime despite staffing challenges.

"I think it's a testament to the hard work of the men and women that are out there of the Alexandria Police Department doing the work during this period," said Wilson. "I think as we roll out of that staffing challenge, I think there's really an opportunity for us to go out on the offenses and deal with some of these challenges that we know exist in the community."

The article Overall Violent Crimes Down, Gun Crimes Up In Alexandria: Police appeared first on Del Ray Patch.

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