Statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story about the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office efforts to tackle crime every year.
The Virginia State Police recently released the annual crime reports for 2018 that show, among other data, the number of reported offenses in certain categories and arrests made by law enforcement agencies.
Maj. Scott Proctor, of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, spoke Thursday about the latest crime report and put the numbers in context with the agency’s work. Proctor first noted what the numbers in the report say about Shenandoah County.
“We live in a safe area and you know and obviously you can see from the report that crimes do get reported here,” Proctor said.
But Proctor includes caveats when discussing each report.
“Well, there are certain criteria to clear a case so, even though it may be reported as a crime, it may not actually have been a crime,” Proctor said.
For example, an agency in the criminal justice system or the reporting victim could decide not to pursue or prosecute a case that stems from a report, Proctor explained.
“These are the crimes that are reported that meet these group offenses, meet the criteria for the offense as it is reported,” Proctor said. “(It) doesn’t always mean that it is the crime (that occurred).”
Reported crimes in one year’s data might not result in an arrest until the next reporting period or later, Proctor explained.
“We could get a rash of breaking-and-entering-type calls maybe in December and arrests aren’t made until January and then they would not be on that report,” Proctor said.
“I don’t want to say the report is ever misleading,” Proctor went on to say. “I always want to add that caveat.”
The reports do provide some benefit to the agency, Proctor added.
“It gives us the ability to not only look at our own reported offenses but the offenses of other jurisdictions,” Proctor said.
As for the 2018 numbers, Proctor noted that it appeared Shenandoah County’s crime data appeared mostly consistent with previous years.
Proctor also commented on the format of the report for 2018 compared to previous years. The new format offers a more detailed account of the reported crimes and related arrests, Proctor said. The new format, for instance, breaks out forcible sex offenses into more specific crimes as listed in the state code. But the Sheriff’s Office investigates reported offenses before pursuing any specific charges, Proctor explained.
“We would still investigate the crime as reported regardless of how the offense ends up being categorized,” Proctor said. “You based your investigation on the information you obtained and in the initial part of the investigation you follow up on what you can ... You’re given leads and you follow up on those as well.
“But each situation is different,” Proctor added.
Data shows the Sheriff’s Office investigated 178 reports of destruction of property, vandalism or property damage in 2018. But the agency only arrested and charged 10 adults and seven juveniles with committing offenses in this category. Another caveat that Proctor notes with the report is the possibility that an investigation could lead to the agency arresting one suspect on multiple charges of destruction of property.
“Like I said, overall it’s good information and I do like the (new) format better as far as finding — well, everything’s on one page and it’s easier to follow and read and that would be a benefit to the public,” Proctor said.
Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office data showed 822 incidents and 981 offenses reported in 2018. The agency made 716 arrests — 654 adults and 62 juveniles — in 2018, the report shows.
Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office data showed no reports and no arrests for charges of murder or negligent manslaughter in 2018. The agency received five reports of kidnapping and made two adult arrests
Shenandoah County authorities made 19 adult arrests for driving under the influence and 26 for public drunkenness, according to the report.
The reports classify group A offenses as crimes against people, crimes against property and crimes against society. Crimes against people include murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter, kidnapping, sexual offenses, aggravated and simple assault, intimidation and human trafficking. The 2018 reports separate sexual offenses by specific crimes such as forcible rape and sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling, incest and statutory rape. Human trafficking is separated into crimes involving commercial sex acts and involuntary servitude.
Crimes against property, now listed under more specific offenses, include arson, bribery, burglary, counterfeiting and forgery, destruction of property, embezzlement, extortion, robbery, credit card fraud, impersonation, welfare fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, hacking and computer invasion, pocket picking, purse-snatching, theft from coin-operated machinery, larceny from a motor vehicle, theft of motor-vehicle parts and theft of a motor vehicle.
Crimes against society include drug offenses, betting or wagering, gambling, sports tampering, pornography, prostitution and assisting, promoting or purchasing prostitution, weapons law violations and animals cruelty.
Crimes categorized in Group B include bad checks, loitering or curfew violations, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, public drunkenness, non-violent family offenses, liquor law violations, peeping tom, runaway and trespassing.
The reports come out about six months after the end of the statistical reporting period. Reports provide detailed information about each agency’s staff numbers, including sworn officers and civilian employees. But, as Proctor said, the staffing numbers can change from Jan. 1 to the time the state police release the report.
The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office employed 66 people — 51 sworn male officers, nine female officers, one civilian male and five civilian females — as reported in 2018. As of Thursday the agency had a total of 61 sworn officers not including the sheriff, Proctor said. The agency should have 70 sworn officers, Proctor noted.