Crime statistics seem to be declining, but legal expert doesn't think so
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- According to a recent report, crime rates in Charlottesville and Virginia as a whole have gone down, but one legal expert disagrees.
"In Virginia, and then even more than in Virginia, Charlottesville is significantly down," said City Councilor Michael Payne.
On Monday night, the Charlottesville City Council was presented with an annual crime report. It showed a decrease in crime and incarceration trends.
"In many areas, 50, 60 percent if you're comparing to 2000 or 2010," Payne said.
He says the city isn't sure why it's seeing these trends.
"We don't have an answer to that," he said.
"I don't think that anyone seriously believes that the city is safer," said legal analyst Scott Goodman.
And Goodman says he knows why.
"There is no question that there are fewer qualified people out there looking to be police officers," he said.
Goodman says fewer officers means fewer arrests. He also says not as many people are joining the force because of what he calls a tight leash on officers.
"In the last few years, there has definitely been a philosophy to back off on some of the situations that police officers used to investigate, now, especially here in Charlottesville, police are just answering calls," Goodman said.
He uses a police tactic as an example.
"Police officers were allowed to use a legal process, which was called stop and frisk, when they believed there was possible criminal activity and they can articulate the reasons why they made a stop. They would find illegal weapons on people and they would get guns off the street. Now police officers don't make stops like that," he said.
Meanwhile, Payne says even though the city can't pinpoint a specific reason for the apparent drop-in crime and incarceration trends, he believes recent criminal justice reforms may have helped.
"The recent criminal justice reform effort here in Virginia has not caused a rise in crime," Payne said.
Goodman also argues officers aren't joining the force for other reasons including pay and the type of work and risk the career entails.