Violent crime decreases 8.1% in Baltimore County

August 02, 1994|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Baltimore County policeSun Staff Writer

Violent crime in Baltimore County dropped by 8.1 percent during the first half of 1994, a decline that officials attributed to a cold winter and crime prevention programs.

Overall crime increased by 1.2 percent over the same period of 1993, largely the result of a 27.4 percent in auto theft.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden, facing a tough re-election battle, showed up yesterday with police officials at the White Marsh police precinct to announce the good news and to unveil the first shipment of 100 new police cruisers being added to the county's fleet -- the first new cars since 1990.

The county's aging police fleet has been the subject of griping from the rank and file and a point of attack for Mr. Hayden's Democratic opponents.

Three new Chevrolet Caprices are already patrolling the Garrison, Essex and North Point precincts. Each new fully equipped cruiser will cost $27,298.58.

Meanwhile, 31 officers will begin taking older cars home with them as part of a new program to promote the presence of neighborhood police officers, Mr. Hayden said.

Mr. Hayden said the new cars, an class of 70 recruits scheduled to graduate in September, and the take-home program point to a revitalized department that can "readily respond to the community's needs," Mr. Hayden said.

"By early October, there will be more uniformed police officers on the streets than ever before in Baltimore County's history," said Mr. Hayden, who has been criticized for cutting back on police in his previous, recession-strapped budgets.

announcing the six-month crime statistics, officials noted significant drops in rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, while the number of homicides stayed the same, at 10.

Arson increased by 21.3 percent and overall theft was up by 4.4 percent. But the largest increase in any category involved auto theft.

In response to the all-time, six-month high of 3,100 stolen cars, Baltimore County and city police have assigned eight officers to a joint task force to crack down on offenders, Police Chief Michael D. Gambrill said.

Noting that 55 percent of cars stolen in Baltimore County are recovered in the city, he added, "We need to cooperate with each other."

Chief Gambrill cited reasons for the decrease in violent crime. "Weather certainly influenced the first couple months of this year," he said, but also mentioned crime prevention programs and a better-equipped force.

But Lt. Timothy Caslin, president of the county's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said the department is still under strength and that the new cars were "long overdue."

He also criticized the program that allows a small number of officers to take their cars home with them at night, saying the old cars have had key pieces of equipment -- computers and location transmitters -- removed for use in the new cars.

"It mainly means that [the officer] cannot use that car when he is working, and he'll have to use another car," he said. "That car cannot be used for normal patrol duties. It is not getting the maximum amount of use. It appears that it's a baby step towards a true take-home car program unlike in Anne Arundel, PG county, Howard, Montgomery and Maryland State police, where they get to use their cars for work."

He also disputed Mr. Hayden's interpretation of the department's strength, arguing that the number of authorized slots has actually decreased by 98 over two years, from 1,580 to 1,482.

"As the months go by and more people retire, what the numbers will be for officers on patrol are uncertain," he said. "But, I don't think the numbers are going to add up for Mr. Hayden though."

The FOP has endorsed Democratic County Councilman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III in the county executive's race.

BALTIMORE COUNTY CRIME

These are Baltimore County crime statistics for the first six months of 1994, showing the percentage increase or decrease over the same period last year.

Category ... ... ... ... Crimes ... ... ... ... Percent

... ... ... ... .. .. .. Reported ... .. .. ... Change

Homicide .. ... .. .. .. 10 ... ... ... ... ... 0.0%

Rape .. ... .. .. .. .. 126 ... ... ... ... ... -10.0%

Robbery .. ... .. .. .. 979 ... ... ... ... ... -8.3%

Aggravated assault ... .. 2,270 ... ... ... ... -7.9%

Total Violent Crime ... .. 3,385 ... ... ... ..-8.1%

Breaking & entering ... .. 3,172 ... ... ... ..-12.5%

Theft .. ... .. .. .. .. .. 11,395 ... ... ... +4.4%

Auto theft .. ... .. .. .. 3,100 ... ... ... ..+27.4%

Arson .. ... .. .. .. .. .. 199 ... ... ... ...+21.3%

Total Property Crime ... .. 17,866 ... ... ... +4.3%

Total Crime ... ... ... .. 39,219 ... ... ... .+1.2%

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