We have all heard the statistic from Sheriff Simpson while on the campaign stump, that “1 in 20 gang members arrested are illegal residents”. This comment was made on October 13, 2007, at the candidates debate held in Leesburg. This statistic was recently quoted by the Honorable Stevens Miller at the July 22 Public Hearing. Mr. Miller seems sold on this, but I am not.
The Center for Immigration Studies has a very detailed report available which provides some detailed estimates and statistics on Northern Virginia gangs :
A significant portion of gang members in Virginia have violated our immigration laws.
Sizable illegal alien population facilitates gang settlement and recruitment in Virginia.
15-40% of caseload is estimated to be illegal or criminal aliens
If you do not have access to Powerpoint, you may view it in html via google.
After seeing this presentation, I had some serious reservations about this 1 in 20 number. Either Loudoun is very unique among our neighboring cities and counties, or this number is simply wrong.
In August of 2007, LCSO issued a press release which discussed the relationship between ICE and LCSO :
“Our continuing working partnership with ICE through the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force has led to a decrease in violent gang-related crimes in Loudoun County,” said Simpson. “It has been very successful,” he added.
Is this saying on one hand, that a partnership with ICE is a worthwhile endeavor, while on the campaign trail, two months later, a statement is made that pursuing gang members in conjunction with ICE is a waste of resources ?
This same press release also states :
In August, an operation targeting Criminal Street gangs’ in Loudoun County netted 13 arrests. Members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Loudoun Sheriff’s Gang Intelligence Unit worked together to locate subjects who were suspected of being actively involved in firearms and narcotics trafficking, money laundering and violent criminal activities. Four of those charged in the operation were held by federal authorities based on their immigration status.
“Our continuing working partnership with ICE through the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force has led to a decrease in violent gang-related crimes in Loudoun County,” said Simpson. “It has been very successful,” he added. In the first six months of 2007 there were 10 violent gang-related cases in Loudoun. There were 37 the previous year.
For the 1 in 20 statistic to be true, with these four August arrests alone, we would need to have had a minimum of 80 gang members arrested in Loudoun at the time of the October debate. To verify this would require hard data from LCSO, as searches of the local newspapers do not show anything close to 80 gang member arrests. Those repeating this statistic, should either back it up with hard facts, or write it off as campaign rhetoric spoken during the heat of debate.
More recently, Sheriff Simpson was quoted in the Washington Post about the recent LCSO partnership with ICE :
Simpson called the partnership with ICE a “big tool for us,” especially in dealing with gangs operating in Loudoun.
“I know when we work with gang members, a lot of times we got through a number of different identifications and different names and different aliases and that type of thing before you get to actually who they are,” Simpson said. “And if you don’t have a way of getting into this system to find out if they have ever been arrested in California, you may never know that information.”
It is obvious Sheriff Simpson has distanced himself from the comments he made at the October debate. One would think Stevens Miller would focus less on those comments and more on what LCSO has done since then.
Our Sheriff’s office appears to have moved on toward making some real progress, but Mr. Miller appears to be stuck in October of 2007. Where do we want Loudoun to be, focused on the future, or with Mr. Miller, stuck in the past ?