Officials are unfazed by 7% rise in crime Authorities cite population growth, juvenile incidents

State rate drops by 6%

Programs started in wake of three domestic slayings

September 09, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Crime increased in Carroll County by 7 percent during the first six months of 1997, compared to the same period last year, but law enforcement officials say they are not unduly concerned.

The increase includes three domestic-violence related murders in Hampstead, compared to none during the same period in 1996. Authorities acknowledge the seriousness of the crimes and have implemented programs to combat domestic violence, but they insist the slayings do not reflect an increase in violent crime in the county.

Police attributed the overall increase to growth -- the county's 145,000 population is growing by about 2.5 percent a year -- and a rise in juvenile crime. Meanwhile, overall crime fell by 6 percent statewide, according to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which helps pinpoint crime trends and is based on information provided by state law enforcement agencies.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening released the report yesterday in Ocean City at the 33rd annual convention of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.

"Population has risen in Carroll County, so an increase in crime is to be expected," said 1st Sgt. Andy Mays, spokesman for the Westminster barracks of the state police. "But I honestly can't say I see a significant trend."

The County Commissioners could not be reached for comment.

Police say that if the three murders are set aside, violent crime in Carroll County followed the statewide trend, which declined by 9 percent.

"The murders -- three this year compared to none last year -- cannot be slighted, but efforts by the County Commissioners, the state's attorney and state police have begun addressing the problem," Mays said.

He said the state's attorney has hired a special investigator to concentrate on domestic violence cases and the commissioners have helped fund the position.

In addition, beginning tomorrow, Tfc. Danielle Barry of the Westminster barracks will serve as regional coordinator for domestic violence cases.

"These murders have not been overlooked, and it would be unfair to say murders are up 300 percent and not explain what has been done to combat that," Mays said.

Among other violent crimes in Carroll, robberies and aggravated assaults declined by 13 percent, while rapes rose less than 1 percent, according to UCR figures.

Among property crimes in Carroll -- breaking and entering, larceny theft and motor vehicle theft -- the UCR showed increases of 6 percent, 15 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

The most significant jump in Carroll County came in larceny theft -- 1,114 cases, compared to 992 in the first six months of 1996.

Lt. Dean Brewer, a Westminster city police spokesman, urged caution in analyzing crime statistics and said he saw no surprises in the Uniform Crime Report.

For example, he noted that larceny theft, which includes shoplifting, tends to rise when school is out and tails off when school reopens. Carroll students were out in early June.

"We always see a rise in shoplifting and malicious destruction of property when school is out," he said. "We saw it again this summer, especially among the 12- and 13-year-olds."

Brewer estimated that 5 percent to 10 percent of the juveniles become repeat offenders.

"For the majority [of the younger offenders], one time in the [court] system is enough," he said.

Mays said he could draw no conclusions from the latest UCR statistics.

"[The UCR shows] crime in Dorchester County is up 20 percent, but the totals are so few, so what does it mean?" Mays asked rhetorically. With 454 larcenies, according to the Uniform Crime Report, Dorchester had about one-third as many as Carroll, he noted.

Are crime rates falling in Baltimore because people are moving out of the city? Mays asked. "It's hard to say."

Pub Date: 9/09/97

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