DUMFRIES, Va. (DC News Now) — A Northern Virginia community is concerned about a rise in crime, a shortage of police, and a troubling trend of resorting to guns during conflict.

On Wednesday night, Dumfries officials held a town hall to address those issues and more, saying there wasn’t one specific incident that sparked the town hall — rather, it’s been a recent rough stretch for safety in Prince William County.

It was an effort to openly discuss — and eventually slow crime — especially acts of violence, hosted by Potomac District Supervisor Andrea Bailey. She pulled a team of politicians, law enforcement, and community members at a town hall.

Major Kevin Hughart with PWCPD believes the rise in crime has a lot to do with a shift in behavior.

“Today people settle their arguments and settle their disagreements with guns,” he said. “They don’t settle it with words, they don’t settle it behind the barn with a fistfight if you get mad at your friend. But they are settling it with guns, and it’s dangerous.” 

There have been three deadly shootings in Dumfries in the last three months — totaling four deaths and four injuries.

Most recently, in January, three-year-old Journee was killed and four other minors were injured in a shooting.

“When that happened it just broke my heart,” Bailey said. “Because Dumfries is a community that I love.”

Police said in many of the recent homicides, the suspect and the victim(s) knew each other, but everyone can play a role. They said stolen guns have been used in crimes.

“Encourage your neighbors, encourage yourself if you’re a gun owner to be responsible and keep it secure,” Hughart said.

The town hall comes as Prince William County recently voted to give a raise to police officers to address the understaffed department, something Board Chair Ann Wheeler said is already boosting recruitment, including of officers across racial and gender backgrounds.

“That makes me feel good as someone of color living in this diverse community,” said Randem Shivers, a Potomac Shores resident who attended the town hall.

Some attendees said they were a bit disappointed with the turnout given what’s happened in recent weeks. Supervisor Bailey is hopeful a task force she’s starting will help draw more attention to a problem she says deserves it.