Downward trend of last few years continues
Arbutus Times, Bryan P. Sears, October 6, 2010
A nearly four-year trend of decreasing crime in Baltimore County has continued into the first half of 2010, making crime figures the lowest they have been since 1975, County Executive Jim Smith announced Tuesday in Catonsville.
“When compared to the first six months of 2009, when crime had also decreased over the prior year, the first six months of 2010 have shown a further decline in crime in all eight major crime categories — homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson,” Smith said, quoting a report compiled by Baltimore County Police.
Numerous elected officials including Gov. Martin O’Malley attended the news conference held outside Bloomsbury Community Center.
During the first six months of the year, countywide, homicides have dropped about 44 percent; rapes about 20 percent; vehicle theft about 22 percent; robbery about 17 percent; burglary about 7 percent; arson about 17 percent; and theft by about 10 percent.
The crime decreases come at a time when the country is immersed in one of the worst economic downturns since the Depression of the 1920s. Typically, crime rises when the economy declines, officials said.
Additionally, the report states that police have increased the percentage of cases they solve.
County police have a better than 80 percent clearance rate for violent crimes — a 4.5 increase over the previous year — and a 90 percent clearance rate for homicides, Smith said.
Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said the statistics show that law enforcement efforts are “not just making people think they’re safe but actually making them safe.”
Johnson credited increased use of technology for many of the department’s successes.
“Technology will continue to play a significant roll in our crimefighting efforts,” Johnson said.
State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said “quality cases” have helped his office convict more criminals and obtain longer jail sentences.
“It is really a very simple equation,” Shellenberger said. “The police build a good case. The prosecutor gets a lengthy sentence the criminal is in jail and cannot re-offend. I believe that contributes greatly to the decrease in crime over the last four years.”