DANVILLE, Va. - Murders, shootings, robberies and community engagement are topics often talked about.
Crime reduction data, however, not so much.
But Danville Police Chief Scott Booth said at a news conference held Thursday morning to discuss crime stats in the city that talking about it is one way to help change the perception that many people -- including a woman he talked to in South Boston recently -- have about Danville.
"She was scared to come into our community because of what she had heard about our community. We had a great conversation about it, but that really bothered me," Booth said. "I've had several of those conversations in my 15 or 16 months here as the chief of police."
According to the department, robberies are down 73% so far this year compared to last year.
Aggravated assaults with a gun are down 70%, homicides -- 33% and burglaries -- 38%.
Arrests have been made in 10 of last year's 12 homicides and both of this year's.
"You can't just allow a negative Facebook post or what have you to get out there and just do all the talking for you. You have to be open, transparent, accountable," Booth said.
Booth pointed to community engagement and changes like making the temporary gang and violent crime task force permanent as reasons for the department's success reducing crime.
Capt. Henry Richardson said the department has learned a lot from having the task force.
"It's allowed us to identify potential areas of crime in the future," Richardson said.
Officers have also been put in charge of the north and south sides of the city, and the department is working with Radford University to improve what Booth calls the department's accountability and crime-focused models.
"I feel very good about the direction we're headed," Booth said.
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