Harford serious crime declines 7% in 1992 Calls for service increase 19%

February 07, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

Serious crime in Harford County declined 7 percent while calls for service jumped 19 percent in 1992, according to statistics compiled by the Sheriff's Office.

A comparison of crime figures on calls handled by the Sheriff's Office between 1991 and last year showed that only homicides, which rose from none to four, and assaults, up from 728 to 773, increased in 1992.

Rapes dropped about 25 percent, from 31 to 23, and robberies fell 8 percent, from 49 to 45. Burglaries dropped nearly 14 percent, from 948 to 819.

Thefts decreased 6 percent, from 2,073 to 1,950, and motor vehicle thefts dropped 18 percent, from 209 to 172.

Three carjackings occurred in the county last year. They were listed as motor vehicle thefts.

Excluded from these data are traffic accidents, domestic violence and responses to residential and commercial alarms.

An emphasis on Neighborhood Watch Programs -- where residents report suspicious activity to police -- in the last two years under Sheriff Robert E. Comes has involved more citizens and pushed the number of calls for service to a record high of 114,453.

The increase in service calls, the Sheriff's Office says, stems from its proactive approach, which has encouraged more citizen involvement and has used surveys to identify high-crime areas. The results have helped target problem areas for an increased patrol presence which, in turn, has helped contain criminal activity.

An indicator of the success of that program, the Sheriff's Office says, is the 6 percent increase in arrests of adults last year, from 3,260 to 3,448.

While total service calls do include such items as rescuing a cat from a tree or directing traffic at a fire scene, the volume -- more than 300 a day -- keeps dispatchers busy.

"It's no surprise calls were up last year," Detective First Class DeWayne Curry, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said recently. "With more eyes spotting suspicious things in the community and being trained to call us rather than wait, we expected more calls."

The 1992 Maryland State Police Uniform Crime Report, which includes homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglarly, theft and vehicle theft, is expected to be released by mid-month and will include statistics provided by the Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace police departments as well as the State Police and Sheriff's Office.

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