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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Police respond to changing demographics

The Fairfax County Positive Aging Fair serves the county's growing population of seniors.
Demographic trends in Fairfax County – the population is getting older, richer, and more diverse – have major implications for all aspects of the local government.

At a recent Mason Police District community engagement meeting, 2nd. Lt. Marques Lowery of the Fairfax County Police Department’s planning and research bureau, described how these changes are affecting law enforcement.

As a result of the aging population, the FCPD is seeing an increase in calls about missing adults with dementia and a “huge rise” in financial scams targeting the elderly, Lowery said.

And because there are so many aging, affluent people here, there has been an uptick in property crimes and more financially sophisticated scams, many originating from overseas.

As of 2019, an estimated 13.4 percent of county residents were 65 or older, up from 9.8 percent in 2010, states the county’s 2019 demographic report. By 2035, this number is projected to grow to 17.7 percent,

Fairfax County ranks as the seventh richest counties in the nation based on median household income. The median household income for county residents was $122,277 in 2019, an 18.6 percent increase since 2010, and is now nearly twice as high as the national median income.

And while 10.7 percent of households in Virginia have an income of $200,000 or more, in Fairfax County, that figure is 25.2 percent.

Among counties with more than 50,000 residents, Fairfax County is one of five nationwide with the highest household incomes for people 65 or older. The others are Arlington and Loudoun in Virginia and Montgomery and Howard in Maryland.

Fairfax County still has its share of people at the bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum. however. The county’s poverty rate is 6.2 percent, which is lower than the 10.7 poverty rate in Virginia and 11.8 percent for the United States.

An estimated 7.8 percent of children under 18 in Fairfax County and 5.6 percent of people 65 or older live below the poverty rate.

When it comes to the county’s increasingly diverse population, the FCPD is responding by recruiting more diverse and bilingual officers and “changing our communication strategy to better communicate to non-English speaking residents,” Lowery said.

The largest ethnic group is Fairfax County is Hispanics, which make up 16.4 percent of the population. The racial mix is 61.1 percent white, 19.3 percent Asian, and 9.7 percent African American. The percentage of whites has decreased 8.8 percent since the 2000 Census.

The county’s estimated population is 1.167 million, which means Fairfax County is more populous than eight states: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

The county population grew by 1.2 percent, adding about 14,100 residents, since the beginning of 2019. Since the 2010 Census, Fairfax County’s population grew at 6.4 percent compared to Virginia’s 8 percent growth rate.

The population of Mason District in 2019 was 116,606, making it the least populous of the nine magisterial districts. It’s also the smallest in terms of square miles; Mason is 22 square miles. The Springfield District is the largest at 72.5 square miles.

Mason is the second densest district, with 8.2 people per acre. Providence is slightly more dense, with 8.5.

The median market value of a home in Mason District was $484,292 in 2019, a 2.3 percent increase from 2018. In the Annandale Planning District, the median value of a home was $525,756 last year, a 4.7 percent increase from 2018.

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