The first sentences of a story in yesterday's Post about "high crime" areas in Vienna should have said that the Fairfax County town is "known to most people as a community of stable, law-abiding, middle-class burghers."
The Fairfax County town of Vienna, known to most people as a community to stable, law-abiding, middle-class burghers, has 34 "high-crime" areas.
While most communities are loathe to give the appearance they are crime-ridden it isn't good for the image - Vienna actually went out of its way to designate 34 areas of the town as having as one official put it, "exhibited high rates of crime."
The town was not trying to ruin its image. It was simply trying to get money from Fairfax County to install streets lights. Because of budget cutbacks the county only allocated $40,000 for street lights in the fiscal year ending June 30 - and all that money was earmarked for "high-crime" areas.
According to the county policy department, an area is given the "high-crime" designation if it has 3.9 incidents per 100 population to which police responded in a year. An incident can be as serious as a murder and a minor as police towing away a car.
There were no murders in the 34 high-crime areas in Vienna during 1976, though two were attempted. Most of the incidents were far less serious, many of them involving vandalism.
"There is not a serious crime problem in Vienna," said Town Manager C. Clay Harrell. "The 'high-crime' terminology is misleading.You think of that in terms of the jungle areas of the inner city. We just don't have those kinds of things happening in Vienna."
But to get the 26 street lights it wanted, the town had many of them looking as respectable as a Hollywood set to put the "high-crime" label on 34 areas of the town, for a middle-class neighborhood.
Harrell said the town sought the lights in response to requests from residents, most of whom complained about juvenile vandalism, such as rock-throwing and tire slashing.
"We report these incidents regularly in the town's monthly newsletter," Harrell said. "I'm sure we're no worse than the rest of the nation, and maybe we're better. But we just won't accept that we have to live with such things as juveniles slashing tires and breaking windows."
While the Fairfax Board of Supervisors approved yesterday a $3,321 street light allocation for Vienna, it did not act on Herndon's application for money to install 226 lights.
County Executive Leonard Whorton recommended against an appropriation for Herndon bacause the town had "not yet provided data requested by staff necessary to make a determination as to whether or not their request qualifies under the 'high-crime program.'"
Herndon Manager Robert Noe Jr. said the town staff "left we didn't meet the criteria for the 'high-crime' designation." Nonetheless, he said, "we have street light needs, and we feel they should be met by the county."
With the appropriation for Vienna, the $40,000 fund for the high-crime street light program has been wiped out and actually goes in the red by $672. Whorton said the deficit would be offset by a saving somewhere else in the county budget.