Chief of Police Al Jones Presents 2020 Annual Report, Highlights New Crime Reduction Strategy
By Tim Ciesco
Posted on April 13, 2021, April 13, 2021

APD 2020 Annual ReportOverall crime in Arlington fell roughly 7 percent in 2020 from the previous year, Chief of Police Al Jones revealed Tuesday as he presented the department’s Annual Report to City Council and the community.

The public report provides a robust look at how the department serves the Arlington community, highlights department and officer successes, and breaks down crime trends the city experienced during 2020.

In addition to the reduction in overall crime, property crimes (burglaries, thefts, motor vehicle thefts) fell 9 percent and crimes against society (drugs, gambling, prostitution) fell 13 percent in 2020.

“We continue to make strides in the right direction in those areas,” said Jones.

Violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, was up slightly in 2020, approximately 4 percent. Domestic violence and aggravated assaults were the primary drivers of that increase.

“I believe one homicide here in Arlington is too many,” said Jones. “But if you look at the landscape across the country, a majority of major cities have experienced an increase in violent crime and homicides. Arlington is no different.”

To help combat these trends, Chief Jones announced the rollout of a new crime reduction strategy. The goal of this effort, called “Operation Connect,” will be to reduce violent crime and serious injury / fatal crashes, while building positive relationships in neighborhoods.

Using real-time data, the department will identify hot spots across the city where the most violent crime and crashes are occurring, then devote additional resources to those areas. Those resources will include both sworn and non-sworn employees. Chief Jones made it clear that communication with the public will be another major component of this plan.

“Normally, we do it backwards in policing,” said Jones. “We go out and flood the area, then explain to the citizens why we’re doing something. But we’re taking a different approach here and making sure we’re educating them beforehand. We’re still going be arresting bad folks who are committing crimes in our neighborhoods. But the communication piece is so important. Communication is the key to building relationships.”

Over the next few weeks, officers will be going door-to-door, as well as meeting with community groups and businesses to explain Operation Connect in greater detail. Chief Jones says moving forward, citizens should also expect to see additional officers patrolling neighborhoods on foot, so they can be more accessible.

“We have to meet our community where they are, as opposed to telling them where to meet us,” said Jones.

Other highlights of the 2020 Annual Report include:

  • In 2012, the department developed a plan to recruit and hire more minority officers and female officers, so the workforce would more accurately reflect the city's diverse population. Over the last five years, 61 percent of newly hired Arlington Police officers come from a racial and / or gender-protected class.

  • In 2020, the department launched a new officer wellness program called "Blue Fit," which encourages officers to get into shape physically and mentally so they can better serve the community.

  • The pandemic profoundly impacted the way the department was able to interact with community members. But from drive-by parades, to supporting local restaurants, and organizing National Night Out drive-thru parties, officers still found creative ways to support and connect with the public in 2020. 

  • In 2020, 36 gun cases were adopted for federal prosecution through the department’s partnership with ATF. These prosecutions typically result in stiffer sentences for violent criminals who should not have access to firearms. 

To view the full Annual Report, click here

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