DANVILLE, Va. – While law enforcement nationwide is seeing a dramatic increase in violent crime, a local police department is seeing the opposite.
Over the past three years, crime in Danville has dropped by more than 50%. However, it was not an easy task to get there.
Scott Booth had his hands full when he arrived in Danville as Chief of Police in 2018. Thanks to his vision, the entire department was revamped a year later.
“As we’ve seen over the past few years in policing, it’s become more important than ever for us to really find creative ways to solve problems in our community,” says Chief Booth.
Little did he know the department would solve 35% more crimes than the national average by 2022. Violent crime has dropped 51% in the community.
“That’s 407 fewer violent crimes per year in our community,” says Steve Richardson, Captain of Professional Standards. “It’s more than one a day less.”
For the second year, officers specifically solved homicides with a 100% success rate. Since 2019, they have solved 26 of the 29 homicides. During this time, they also resolved seven cold cases.
“We started instead of focusing on communities, areas, streets or neighborhoods and started focusing on the individuals who are committing the crimes,” said Investigations Captain David Whitley.
Burglaries, robberies and property crimes are at a 35-year low. Aggravated assaults are solved at 81%, the highest rate in history.
Police say Danville’s crime reduction and accountability model is working because of the leaps and bounds they’ve made in community engagement.
“What has changed is the way we deal with these spikes,” says Investigations Captain David Whitley. “We don’t wait for the end of the year, we don’t wait for the end of the month.”
Police are adopting new training models for things like de-escalation tactics. They have started several projects to get out in the community, like Youth Police Academy, Pass the Perspectives, and Heal and Engage after Recent Trauma, to name a few.
“Crime is up, crime is down,” adds Chief Booth. “If we do the right things, the community support stays with us.”
Danville Police hope their model will serve as an example to departments across the Commonwealth and across the country.
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