Crime down 11 percent in Arlington, interim chief says

ARLINGTON -- In January, Arlington police set an ambitious goal to cut the city's crime rate in half within three years.

On Tuesday, interim Police Chief Will Johnson told the City Council that crime was down 11 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with the same period in 2011.

Police will use enforcement coupled with community engagement to try to reduce homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts and vehicle thefts, he said.

"We are incrementally approaching our goal," Johnson said.

"There is much work that remains to be done."

Arlington's crime rate, which has steadily declined the past few years, was at 5,220 crimes per 100,000 people in 2011.

That's 38 percent lower than it was in 1985, according to police statistics.

"It generally shows this community has been actively engaged throughout the decades to make neighborhoods stronger and address crime and quality-of-life issues," Johnson said.

Violent crime and property crime rates are falling nationally, Johnson said.

But he credited the department's community participation, outreach, and education and its geographic-based policing with helping to make Arlington safer.

Because the city's neighborhoods are so diverse, officers work closely with residents, businesses, faith-based organizations and other groups to tailor enforcement and outreach to meet each area's needs, Johnson said.

"Crime statistics are important to tell us where we are, but the goal is to have livable neighborhoods, to reduce crime and reduce the perception of crime," Johnson said.

The 50 percent crime reduction goal is "sufficiently challenging" but possible, Johnson said.

"Even if we hit only 40 percent, the community will still be better off," he said.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock