Arlington, Va., wrapped up 2011 with some very good news: For the first time in 50 years, there were no reported murders in the county.
National murder rates suggest a jurisdiction the size of Arlington County should average about 10 murders per year, but the county had only one each in 2010 and 2009. There were four in 2008.
County board members having their first meeting of the year were hesitant to take too much credit for this.
"I think it's a combination of a whole bunch of factors, some of which we influence and some of which we don't," said outgoing chairman Chris Zimmerman. "Clearly, the work we did years ago investing in public safety and creating community policing has had some kind of benefit."
Zimmerman said Arlington's unemployment rate (the lowest in the region) and relative affluence also helped.
County board member Walter Tejada said that the good relationship between citizens and the police also helped.
"The community trusts the police," Tejada said. "If they see a crime, they do not hesitate to report it, especially the victims of a crime."
Some long-time residents said they aren't surprised with the zero-murder statistic. And if Arlington gets to March 15 without a homicide, it'll mark two years without one.