Sykesville police study shows dip in serious crime Only number of thefts of items valued under $300 was up, report says

June 18, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Statistics from the Sykesville Police Department show serious crime is decreasing in the town of 3,500.

In its annual report released last week, the seven-member department posted declines in robbery, assault and auto theft, the most serious crimes committed in the town, during 1997. Police recovered nearly half of the $81,631 in property reported stolen, according to the report.

"We have to give a lot of credit to the department," said Matthew H. Candland, town manager. "They have done an excellent job not only in enforcement but in focusing on traffic and drug awareness."

The only crime increase was in theft of items valued under $300, a misdemeanor that jumped from 47 in 1996 to 67 incidents last year. Many minor crimes are attributed to juveniles, police said.

Increased traffic statistics reflect the department's efforts to respond to local concerns on safety, voiced in a survey of town households. Those surveyed gave the police force a 76 percent approval rating, but about 11 percent said officers could be stricter enforcing traffic regulations, particularly those dealing with speeding.

Officers issued 484 traffic citations and 774 warnings, made five arrests for driving while intoxicated -- down from nine in 1996 -- and cited 12 youths for bike helmet violations during 1997, the year the helmet law took effect. In 1996, 246 traffic citations and 262 warnings were issued.

Chief Wallace P. Mitchell has called for increased enforcement and asked each officer to continue the effort. In addition to five police vehicles, the department also uses bikes for patrols.

"We can all see from the statistics that traffic enforcement has increased significantly," said Candland, who credits officers and newly acquired equipment, including a hand-held radar that flashes rates of speed to passing motorists. As a result, motorists can't argue with officers issuing citations for speeding

Police also have experienced a 15 percent increase in calls for service, with most of the 1,972 calls coming from newer neighborhoods at the north end of the town.

Pub Date: 6/18/98

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