The number of violent crimes reported in the county rose slightly last year, but crime overall decreased for the first time in four years, according to statistics released by county police.
More people were assaulted and raped in 1992, but fewer were robbed. Fewer cars were stolen than in 1991, but the number of arsons increased. Police officers didn't write as many speeding tickets last year, but made more drunken driving arrests.
"The last year we had a decrease was 1988," said Sgt. Mark Howes, an aid to Police Chief Robert Russell. "The reduction isn't very significant, but it is good news for us."
In 1991, violent crime increased nearly 27 percent, a jump police attributed to a spate of armed robberies at restaurants.
In 1992, "everything is pretty much the status quo," Sergeant Howes said. "Exactly what we can attribute that to, I'm not sure."
But while crime in the county dropped by 0.2 percent last year, it rose in Annapolis by 4.3 percent, most of which city police attributed to a significant increase in robberies, assaults and car thefts.
Two weeks ago, city police reported increases in six of seven crime categories, all except larcenies.
County police said Thursday that the incidents of violent crimes -- such as rape, robbery and assault -- increased slightly, to 1,423 from 1,391. Reported rapes increased to 99 from 96 and assaults rose to 861 from 812. Robberies decreased to 453 from 473 and homicides remained the same at 10.
Sergeant Howes said the number of robbery investigators has ** increased, which could help explain the reduction.
Other crimes, which include illegal drugs, gambling, bomb threats and prowling, increased 5.7 percent. That includes a 29 percent increase in the number of narcotics violations, increasing to 1,610 from 1,249 in 1991.
Anne Arundel police broke with a statewide trend of declining drunken driving arrests. While the number of driving while intoxicated cases has fallen by 17 percent throughout Maryland over the past three years, they went up last year in Anne Arundel by 25 percent.
Also in Anne Arundel, the number of moving violations issued last year dropped 3.7 percent, to 17,243 from 17,900. Traffic warnings also decreased 18.5 percent -- to 10,829 from 13,294.
Sergeant Howes said officers have been instructed to make drunken driving a top priority. "A lot of our effort has been spent on getting drunk drivers off the road," he said. "It takes away our effectiveness in other areas."