Violent crime rates trending down in Henry, up in Martinsville, Patrick
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Violent crime rates trending down in Henry, up in Martinsville, Patrick

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The rate of most serious crimes appears to be trending down in Henry County during the past year but rising precipitously in Martinsville and Patrick County.

Crime in Virginia, a report compiled by the Virginia State Police, shows that in what it calls Group A crimes – including murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault; and property crimes and drug offenses – declined by about 14% in Henry County last year.

Henry County had 2,480 such incidents in 2018, down from 2,882 in 2017.

An “incident” refers to one or more offenses committed by the same person or a group of people acting in concert, at the same time and place. The actual number of “offenses” is higher.

Martinsville, meanwhile, showed an increase of 19.3%, from 1,064 in 2017 to 1,270 last year.

In Patrick County the incidents grew by a whopping 52%, from 532 to 809.

Statewide, Group A offenses declined from 437,369 in 2017 to 418,074 in 2018, or 4 percent. The crime rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined, but kidnapping/abduction, all forcible sex offenses and all drug offenses increased.

Law enforcement officials didn’t entirely endorse the figures compiled by the state. Each agency compiles its own comparative data.

For instance, Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said there were some discrepancies but “mostly they are right.”

He said the state police report shows there were five homicides in Henry County in 2015, but his department’s records show there were four. He said the state police report shows there were “three prosecuted murders [in 2016], but we actually got four, but one was ruled self-defense,” Perry said.

Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady said his department is reviewing the report.

“We have just received the report ourselves a few days ago,” Cassady wrote in an email. “At this time we are in the process of analyzing the numbers and preparing our annual report on crimes reported in the City of Martinsville during 2018. … I project our annual report to be completed within the next two weeks.”

Patrick County had more reported murders or non-negligent manslaughter offenses, more kidnapping/abduction offenses and more drug/narcotics offenses in 2018 than in 2017 but fewer forcible rape incidents.

Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said the homicides and kidnappings/abductions in 2018 generally were domestic-related. Perry also said kidnapping/abduction increases are because “some of these stem from domestic cases.”

In addition to 2018 and 2017, the Martinsville Bulletin compiled data for the years 2016, 2015, 2010 and 2000 to show trends for murder and non-negligent manslaughter, kidnapping/ abduction, forcible rape and drug/ narcotics.

The number of incidents for murder and non-negligent manslaughter:

  • Henry County: three in 2018, none in 2017, three in 2016, five in 2015, six in 2010 and four in 2000.
  • Martinsville: two in 2018 and 2017, none in 2016, one in 2015, three in 2010 and eight in 2000.
  • Patrick County: three in 2018, none in 2017, 2010 and 2000, and one each in 2016 and 2015.

Kidnapping/abduction:

  • Henry County: 12 in 2018, less than the 16 in 2017 but more than that in 2015, 2010 and 2000.
  • Martinsville: three in 2018, which was more than in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2010 but less than in 2000.
  • Patrick County: five in 2018, none in 2017, 2016 and 2015; and three each in 2010 and 2000.

Forcible rape:

  • Henry County: eight in 2018, 2017 and 2015, more in 2016 and 2000, and fewer in 2010.
  • Martinsville: two in 2018, three in 2017, none in 2016, two in 2015, six in 2010 and seven in 2000.
  • Patrick County: six in 2018, seven in 2017, four in 2016, six in 2015, two in 2010 and none in 2000.

Drugs/narcotics:

  • Henry County: 300 in 2018, 372 in 2017 but more than in 2016, 2015, 2010 and 2000.
  • Martinsville: 426 in 2018, 199 in 2017 and more than in 2016, 2015, 2010 and 2000.
  • Patrick County: 353 in 2018, 61 in 2017, 57 in 2016, 17 in 2015, 71 in 2010 and 82 in 2000.

Smith also attributed the increase in drug/narcotics offenses in Patrick County from 2017 to 2018 to a drug investigation for which officers began making arrests Tuesday after a special grand jury recently indicted more than 190 people on more than 650 charges.

“We noticed some violent crime seems to be reducing,” Perry said. “Our officers work diligently. We do a lot with community awareness.

“We aggressively pursue drug activity and make every arrest we possibly can and stop the damage of drugs. We have made a lot of drug arrests in the past few years.”

Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.

Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.

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