Prince William County Police Chief Peter Newsham will be front and center during the Board of County Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, to update elected leaders about crime in the county.
According to Newsham’s 2022 executive summary, the violent crime rate jumped an eye-popping 70% from 2019 to 2022, which includes murder, manslaughter, rape, sodomy, and robbery (outlined on page 48 of the department’s 2021 report).
The overall crime rate rose 23% in the past year, with 38 crimes per every 1,000 county residents reported, up from 32 in 2021. Even more alarming, the murder rate doubled in a year, with 20 homicides in 15 incidents in 2022.
All but two of the 2022 murder cases have been solved.
Last week, we reported Newsham said the crime report would be released soon and that it “doesn’t look good.” Newsham’s executive summary was found in Tuesday’s meeting agenda as a precursor to a more detailed crime report for 2022 that will be released at a to-be-determined date.
The crime rate has skyrocketed under the leadership of the current Board of County Supervisors, controlled by Democrats, and Commonwealth Attorney Amy Ashworth (D), who took office in 2020.
Under Ashworth, grand jury indictments have fallen from more than 200 to about 70 per month, despite supervisors providing additional funding to the commonwealth attorney to hire more staff.
In a January 2023 interview with this news organization, Ashworth denied the rising crime rate and stated it was a “Republican narrative repeated only by people who watch Fox News.” Ashworth also explained that indicting more people, as was done under her predecessor, Paul Ebert, a Democrat, was just a means to put numbers in a board to increase state funding.
“That incentive is completely contrary to what you do as a prosecutor,” Ashworth told PLN, who added those caught with cocaine for the first time should not face felony charges. Republican Matt Lowery is challenging Ashworth in the November 2023 General Election.