Crime down in Baltimore County

February 23, 1994|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writer

Serious crimes decreased by 5.3 percent in Baltimore County last year, and County Executive Roger B. Hayden wants to put the county's anti-crime message on billboards.

"How about a little advertising to let the bad guys know how we feel on crime?" Mr. Hayden said yesterday as he announced the yearly crime statistics and new initiatives that include 50 billboards plastered with anti-crime slogans.

"We're trying to send a clear message that Baltimore County is not the place to commit crimes," he said.

Overall crime decreased by 3.5 percent, to 80,683 cases in 1993. Serious crime decreased by 5.3 percent to 44,074 cases. Robbery was the only category to post an increase, up by less than 1 percent.

The number of murders decreased from an all-time high of 44 in 1992 to 35 in 1993 year, although 25 of those occurred in the last six months of the year.

Yesterday's good-news press conference at the Police Training Academy in Dundalk was only the second Mr. Hayden has held to announce crime statistics since he took office in 1990. The first was in September, when he also announced that crime had dropped over the previous six months.

He had no explanation for last year's decrease, but said he hoped crime had gone down because of the prevention efforts he, the police department and citizens have undertaken.

"It's not a sprint that we're in," he said. "It's a marathon."

While he said it might be a "Pollyanna goal" to make everyone in the county feel completely safe, it was worth trying.

To help do that, he said, the county is forming a partnership with Penn Advertising and McDonald's to post anti-crime messages on 50 billboards throughout the county.

The billboards will stress Mr. Hayden's belief that citizens must help police prevent crime and arrest criminals. Everyone should be like Mrs. Kravitz, he said, citing the fictional busybody from the 1960s sitcom "Bewitched."

The billboards will have slogans such as, "Not in our backyard," and "Help us help you. Report suspicious activity. Call 911."

Each billboard will carry the warning, "Baltimore County is tough on crime."

In another anti-crime initiative, Mr. Hayden said the county would hire 36 police cadets who will work in precinct houses -- freeing officers for street patrol -- and as undercover investigators of drug violations in county schools.

Cadets are non-sworn officers between 18 years old and 20 years old.

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