Crime in Carroll

December 26, 1991

For Carroll countians, the holiday season brings a stark, and sad, realization: The once-sleepy, rural towns are being transformed by the creeping grip of the megalopolis. The most visible consequence is a substantial increase in crime.

In the first nine months of this year alone, the county's crime rate grew six times faster than its population. That break-ins, murders, robbery and assault are escalating is only one part of the problem, however. The other is that the county depends entirely on the state-subsidized Resident Trooper Program for protection. And now, with the fiscal vice tightening in Annapolis, the state is threatening to cut the subsidy entirely.

Carroll County, which now foots 87 percent of the bill, could pick up the state's share and keep the program going. But it will be expensive to offer troopers the pension funds and other benefits they get from the state. As such, officials have not been forthcoming so far with a plan to do that. Instead, a task force has been set up to investigate the various options.

One idea the committee undoubtedly will be forced to consider is raising the $2.35 tax rate to pay for the kind of top-notch protection which, until now, the state has been subsidizing. That's a politically unpalatable choice, and certainly there are less-expensive alternatives. But with the crime rate rising, the population growing and Maryland's resources strained, it's the right time for Carroll countians to recognize that the state can no longer carry them, and that asking local government to do more has a price.

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