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Virginia State Police Superintendent and Rappahannock native Colonel Gary T. Settle has overseen the release of his department’s detailed 2018 Virginia Uniform Crime Report, which includes Rappahannock County, compiled and published annually in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The 500-page report, which tallies virtually all manner of crimes committed around the state, always has its ups and downs depending on the category — burglaries and assaults to arson and kidnappings — although here in rural Rappahannock, after an unusual uptick in unlawful incidents around 2010, crime remains relatively low.

In 2018, according to the report with a foreword written by Settle, there were a total of 131 offenses investigated in Rappahannock County (population 7,219 at last count), resulting in 164 arrests, only five of them juveniles.

An overwhelming majority of more serious Group A offenses, which did not necessarily lead to arrests, were for drug/narcotic violations (49), simple assault (26), larceny (11), destruction/vandalism of property (8), drug equipment violations (6), aggravated assault (5), theft from building (5), theft from motor vehicle (4), weapon law violations (3), plus numerous lesser offenses including motor vehicle theft (2) forgery (2), and forcible rape (1).

In the less serious Group B category of offenses, of which there were 98 arrests, most were for driving under the influence (40), drunkenness (5), liquor law violations (4), non-violent family offenses (4), and trespassing (3).

No murders or manslaughter cases were investigated in Rappahannock County in 2018 (Flint Hill resident Randy Smoot was convicted in August 2018 of manslaughter in connection with the death of Harris Hollow’s Jonas “Jay” Alther, but that crime occured in October 2017).

The relatively low crime rate enjoyed in Rappahannock can’t be claimed by several of the larger counties surrounding Rappahannock, which report far more serious crimes given higher populations. For instance, 15,000 people live in Page County, where there were 223 arrests, and with a population of 33,000 in Culpeper County there were 994 arrests.

As for some of the other unique crimes committed in significant numbers around the commonwealth — pocket-picking and purse-snatching, human trafficking and prostitution, gambling operations and sports tampering — Rappahannock County remains immune for the most part. 

At the time the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) submitted its 2018 statistics to the State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Section it employed 21 people: 11 sworn males, 6 sworn females, 2 civilian males, and 2 civilian females.

Virginia has been publishing crime data in an expanded format since 1994, when all contributing agencies like the RCSO were given five years to convert their summary system into an incident based system. The system was fully implemented in 2000 and is known as Incident Based Reporting (IBR). 

By use of crime statistics, criminal justice agencies can make an informed decision concerning the most efficient and effective manner in which to dedicate resources toward the reduction of crime in their communities. 

The development of the nationwide summary Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program began nearly 90 years ago. In 1930, crime counts were first requested from local police departments, with the FBI designated by Congress to collect, compile, and analyze the figures. The International Association of Chiefs of Police played a primary role in the origin and development of the UCR Program, while in 1966 the National Sheriffs’ Association established a Committee on Uniform Crime Reporting.

The FBI has actively assisted individual states like Virginia in the development of statewide programs of police statistics compatible with the national system. Prior to 1974, no mandatory uniform crime reporting law existed in Virginia, and of the 288 agencies in the Commonwealth, 162 or 56 percent, were voluntarily reporting directly to the FBI.

The 2018 Virginia Uniform Crime Report is dedicated to the memory of Officer Hunter Edwards of the Winchester Police Department, who died in the line of duty this past November at 30 years of age.

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