Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart asserts he has a tough-on-crime background by stating that violent crime dropped by 48.7 percent during his time in office as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, but the reality of the situation is much different, according to a December report published by The Washington Post.
Stewart polled behind former chair of the Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie in early polling, and stepped up his rhetoric on crime as a result.
I was tough on crime in Prince William County and I will continue as your governor. pic.twitter.com/478eXhw3EL
— Corey Stewart (@CoreyStewartVA) February 12, 2017
Stewart tweeted out the statistic several times over the weekend, but the figure uses an old technique not accepted by statewide police agencies, and ignores the fact that violent crime doubled from 2015, according to the report.
The county government used a reporting technique that only reports the most violent crime committed during a string of offenses. For example, if someone was arrested for murder, robbery, and grand theft auto, the murder would be the only statistic recorded. The state government uses an updated system that lists each offense as a separate crime. That number reveals that violent crime went down, but only 22 percent, according to a politifact report at the time. The report also mentioned the fact that the 22 percent number was the lowest of any surrounding county, indicating that other counties had a much higher reduction in violent crime than Prince William County did in the same time frame.
Stewart is still in office, and the numbers for 2016 doubled the violent crime rate, according to the Post, the county’s deadliest year on record since the records were kept — beginning in 1975. Even when homicide is the only violent crime considered, Prince William County still beats the surrounding, more populated Fairfax County in total number of crimes.
This isn’t the first time Stewart cited this figure to illustrate the fact that he was tough on crime. During his failed bid for lieutenant governor in 2013, Stewart cited a figure that was even more generous than the 48.7 percent he cites now. Stewart asserted that the crime rate dropped over 52 percent from 2006 through 20013, a claim that Politifact quickly discredited based on state figures.
“Violent Crime–classified as murders, rapes, aggravated assault, and robbery — was reduced by a staggering 48.7% after only 5 years,” Stewart wrote in an op-ed published at The Daily Caller in December. Stewart linked to the uncited claim when the Daily Caller News Foundation asked Stewart for comment on the story. The Washington Post story outlining the surge in violent crime in Prince William County was published three weeks after Stewart’s op-ed was published.
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