What’s causing crime numbers to stay low in Cumberland County?

Published 4:31 am Tuesday, July 11, 2023

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During 2022, the crime numbers stayed low in Cumberland County. There were no murders, kidnappings, rapes or similar crimes. You can also count on one hand the number of burglaries and counterfeit situations the sheriff’s department responded to. That’s a reverse from the overall trend in Virginia. And the numbers are lower, dramatically so in some cases, than in neighboring Buckingham and Prince Edward counties. 

“We have one of the lowest (crime rates) around and we take that very seriously,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Darrell Hodges. “We also have one of the better success rates and we’re really proud of that.”

Coming out of the pandemic, many localities across the country saw lower crime rates while everyone was staying at home and now those numbers are getting back to the pre-pandemic levels or surpassing them in some cases. For Cumberland, according to Hodges, these low numbers are something that the county has consistently seen over the years. 

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The numbers have been released as part of the 2022 “Crime in Virginia” report, the annual breakdown sent out by the Virginia State Police. The report details all crime that happened over the course of a year in every city, town and county in the Commonwealth. 

Crunching crime numbers

Overall in Cumberland, there were 84 reported crimes against property. That means things like robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft and forgery, among others. Compare that to 270 property crimes reported in Buckingham County and 514 reported during the same period in Prince Edward County. 

Looking closer at the property crimes, there were only three reports of ID theft, one of credit card fraud, seven burglaries, five cases of counterfeit material and 24 reports of vandalism. The same crimes are much higher in other counties. Cumberland only saw three reports of motor vehicle theft, for example, in 2022. Neighboring Prince Edward reported 14, while Buckingham saw 34. 

The comparisons were similar for “crimes against people”, such as assaults, murder, rape and intimidation. Cumberland only reported 41 total incidents, compared to 70 in Buckingham and 212 in Prince Edward. The majority of those in Cumberland were assault cases, with 26 simple assault and 10 reports of aggravated assault. 

A question of population 

Part of the difference, of course, comes back to population. Cumberland has a lower population than its neighbors, with 9,675 residents as of the 2020 Census. Buckingham County has 16,824 and Prince Edward comes in at 21,849. 

But beyond having fewer people, Hodges attributes the lower crime stats to a few other things. One simple tactic is rotating deputies during their shifts. During one shift, the deputies will rotate through different parts of the county to give a fresh pair of eyes on the area to catch something that might be out of the ordinary before it escalates into something before it happens. 

Another reason has less to do with law enforcement and more to do with the Cumberland community. According to Hodges, Cumberland is a tight-knit community that looks out for each other. If someone sees anything out of the ordinary, they are quick to call the Sheriff’s Office and let them know something is going on that may not end well. These calls may not amount to anything, but the low crime numbers show that it helps when neighbors are looking out for each other. 

“People looking out for one another, that’s the success of it,” said Hodges. 

Help from other agencies 

Hodges also attributes these numbers to the collaboration Cumberland Sheriff’s Department has with the surrounding areas. According to Hodges, criminals don’t look at county lines but the surrounding agencies work well together to keep the crime rate low and the success rate high.

An example of that happened last month, in a drug bust that was recently announced. 

Due to a joint effort by the Farmville Police Department, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office, a search warrant was issued and served June 14 on Spillman Road in Cumberland. Officers found what they labeled as “distributable amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana” inside the home, along with 22 firearms. 

As a result of the search, 47-year-old Richard Thomas Miller Jr. was taken into custody. He currently faces multiple charges, including felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm while in possession of a schedule I/II controlled substance and four counts of felony drug possession with intent to distribute. That’s one for each type of drug found in the home, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.