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Danville sees steady drop in crime over last few years

WDBJ7 asked the captain of the investigations unit what has led to these yearly drops in crime rates.
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:28 AM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Danville has been seeing a steady drop in crime over the last few years. So far this year, major crimes have dropped by 21 percent compared to last year.

WDBJ7 asked the captain of the investigations unit what has led to these yearly drops in crime rates. He credited a commitment to its new policing strategies and gang prevention model that is being recognized around the country. He said this is just a preview of how safe Danville can be.

In past years, police sirens were a familiar sound in Danville as gang violence and other major crimes kept police on their feet.

“Overworked, high crime and very high stress level in 2016 and 2017,” Danville Police Captain Steve Richardson said.

In 2016, there were 16 homicides in the city, but every year since, crime rates have dropped.

“These reductions we feel like policy changes and how violent crime and gang units have added to the department,” Richardson explained.

The department started its new policing model in 2019, focusing on holding itself accountable for crime numbers and strategically preventing crime before it happens. Richardson believes their new approach gives them a major advantage.

“It helps with deployment going after the right problems,” he said. “Making sure you are in the right places when you look at the numbers going where data tells you to go. "

Comparing this year to 2019 at this point, violent crimes are down 15% and property crimes have dropped by 26%.

“That is what we want, the question is how far can we go, how safe can we get Danville,” Richardson said.

Richardson says the low crime helps keep stress levels down for officers, making their community policing efforts easier.

“When officers get to go out and do these walks and hear positive feedback and hear people say they are appreciated it keeps morale up,” he explained.

Captain Richardson said 2020′s low rates have allowed them to focus on improving the programs they have in place and go after older cases. They feel as if Danville is one of the safest cities in the country, a statement that would be nearly impossible to argue a few years ago.

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