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Danville’s violent crime rate fell by 13.9 percent in 2012 from the prior year, according to the latest Virginia State Police Uniform Crime Report. Among Virginia’s 39 cities, Danville ranked 21st.
Police Chief Philip Broadfoot attributed the decline and the overall low rate of violent crime in Danville to a proactive and focused approach to policing.
“Danville officers work hard in making targeted arrests, and we make more targeted arrests than every other jurisdiction in Virginia except one,” Broadfoot said. “Danville possesses the demographics – including unemployment, poverty and educational attainment levels – that experts say should lead to a high rate of violent crime. However, our rate is low, and we believe it is because of the high number of targeted arrests.”
By population, Danville ranks 14th among Virginia cities, but in arrest rates for drugs and weapons, Danville in 2012 ranked second highest in both categories. “We are much more effective in making these arrests than most other jurisdictions in Virginia,” Broadfoot said.
The Virginia crime report collects crime data in 24 categories. Six of the 24 categories involve violent felony crimes. The six categories are 1) murder and non-negligent manslaughter, 2) kidnapping and abduction, 3) forcible rape, 4) other forcible sex offenses, 5) robbery, and 6) aggravated assault.
In 2012, Danville reported 186 violent crimes. In 2011, the number was 216. Most violent crime in Danville is among acquaintances, Broadfoot said.
“Danville's reputation for a high violent crime rate is undeserved,” Broadfoot said. “These numbers show this statement to be true. Thousands of citizens in Danville move throughout the city in relative safety on a daily basis.”
While the high number of targeted arrests likely lowers the rate of violent crimes, it raises the city’s overall crime rate.
“When it comes to drug and weapons arrests, these are officer-generated,” Broadfoot said. “No one is going to come to us and turn in drugs or weapons and face charges. We seek them out. We want the drugs and weapons off the streets. However, each officer-initiated weapons arrest and drug arrest is counted as a crime just the same as if we were to receive a call or report of an incident.
“Because of our targeted arrest efforts, we have a low violent crime rate, but the arrests count against our overall crime rate. Regardless, we intend to continue doing what we are doing.”
In 2012, Danville reported a total of 5,344 criminal incidents, which was an increase of 2.4 percent from 2011 when 5,218 incidents were reported.
Among all Virginia cities, Danville ranked second in the overall rate of crime in 2012. Roanoke ranked first.
In addition to the high number of arrests, Broadfoot said Danville’s overall crime rate is driven by high rates of simple assault, vandalism and burglaries. Collectively, the three categories of crimes accounted for half of Danville’s reported crimes in 2012.
“Simple assaults alone accounted for 26 percent of the total,” Broadfoot said. “These are incidents reported to us where those involved most often know each other. In many cities, these incidents never would be reported to the police department. We think it is reported here because citizens have great faith in our criminal justice system. An officer responds to every report of a crime face-to-face with the victim, and every viable charge is prosecuted. That makes Danville unique among the cities in Virginia.”
Broadfoot presented the Virginia crime report numbers Tuesday night to Danville City Council.