Wrapping up his first year on the job, Prince William County Police Chief Peter Newsham says he’s concerned about the increase in aggravated assaults.
“Two things that stood out to me this year is our aggravated assault numbers are far too high, as far as I’m concerned, and our stolen autos," he said.
Aggravated assaults jumped more than 22% over the five-year average.
“Significant majority of our violent offenses are between people who know each other,” Newsham said. “So, they're not random in nature."
There were 10 homicides in 2021, which is consistent with recent years, but overall arrests dropped significantly.
"One of the categories where we saw a significant reduction in the number of arrests was with our juveniles – almost in half – and I think everybody would agree that that's a good thing," Newsham said. “We’re not unnecessarily introducing young people into the criminal justice system.”
There's at least one arrest that hasn't been made that both the chief and the community really want. A 20-year-old man was shot and killed inside of a parked car at a Dumfries apartment complex in February 2021.
News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey has been covering this side of the state since joining NBC4 in 1992. She's joined by reporter Drew Wilder.
"To the family who's lost a loved one unnecessarily, I can tell you that the men and women who work here are going to do everything they possibly can to ensure somebody's held accountable for that," Newsham said.
New data also shows 2021 was a more deadly year on Prince William County roads with crashes and fatalities up significantly compared to the previous year.
Complaints against the police department dropped by more than 25%, which Newsham says reflects the department's strong relationship with and transparency in the community.
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