According to the Virginia State Police, crime was up in Stafford County for the fifth straight year. It wasn’t just up, but has soared by 60% since 2005. Worse yet, when strictly looking at violent crimes, crime has soared a whopping 66% over that same time period. Violent crimes include the following subcategories: Murder and Non-negligent Manslaughter, Forcible Rape, Robbery and Aggravated Assault.
|County Sheriff’s Office||Population (‘05/’10)||Overall Crime Incident Rate Per 100,000 (‘05/’10)||% Overall Crime Increase from ‘05 to ‘10 (rate per 100,000)||Violent Crime Incident Rate Per 100,000 (‘05/’10)||% Violent Crime Increase from ‘05 to ‘10 (rate per 100,000)|
|Stafford County||117,300/ 128,961||2472.29/3967.86||~60%||97.19/ 161.29||~66%|
Table 1. Stafford County Crime Statistics (’05-’10), Source: Virginia State Police
At this point, you must be asking yourself how this stacks up in our region? For comparison purposes, let’s take a look at Spotsylvania County.
As you can see from Table 2, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population and demographic makeup of the counties are nearly similar over the last 10 years. Additionally, Spotsylvania is a neighboring county in our same region. So we would expect a pretty similar rise in crime, correct? WRONG. Over the last 5 years, in Spotsylvania, overall crime has actually fallen 1.5%. In Stafford, overall crime has soared 60%! During the same time period, in Spotsylvania, violent crime has slid 25%. In Stafford it has soared a whopping 66%!
Stafford is clearly headed in the WRONG direction. Worse yet, according to Stafford County, the Sheriff’s office budget has increased by 52% since 2005. Even worse, the Commonwealth’s Attorney budget has increased by 82% since 2005. I’d say that taxpayers are NOT getting a good return on their tax dollars!
The rise in the Commonwealth’s Attorney budget could have something to do with their practice of asking for jury trials too often. Last year alone, they requested 600% more jury trials than Spotsylvania County. In fact, they were second to only Fairfax County in the number or jury trials held last year.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t necessarily take issue with the budget increases so long as they are producing results. After all, public safety goes hand-in-hand with providing a safe learning environment for our children – which is an issue that is extremely important to me. We can’t keep throwing money at our problems and getting zero accountability in return.
For 72 years the Chichester family has controlled the Commonwealth’s Attorney office. Daniel Chichester has now endorsed his top prosecutor, Eric Olsen, to take the family reigns. Likewise, Sheriff Charles Jett has held his post for 11 years. Sheriff Jett was recommended by Sheriff R.M Williams who was recommended by Sheriff Ashby and so on. Talk about a good ol’ boy network.
It’s time that Stafford citizens demand accountability and ends these family dynasty’s. It’s not even about how long these families (or networks) have served. It’s simply about results and they are not there.
It’s time to sweep the courthouse clean and elect Tim Barbrow (I-Stafford) as our new Commonwealth’s Attorney and Chuck Feldbush (I-Stafford) as our next Sheriff on November 8, 2011. Stafford is in dire need of a new direction. We need a return of accountability and results!