Crime stats edge up

Robberies, burglaries increased slightly overall last year

`Push out of Baltimore'

Police respond by conferring with Balto. City, County

Howard County

March 07, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Howard County had 34 more robberies last year than in 2000, a statistic that pushed the overall number of violent crimes in the county up 5.8 percent last year, according to a crime report released by county police yesterday.

Property crimes increased 8.4 percent, largely because of 311 more burglaries last year than in 2000. Thefts and motor vehicle thefts were up last year, too, although the increases were smaller.

"I'm concerned about the robbery and burglary numbers," Police Chief Wayne Livesay said yesterday. "We're feeling a bit of a push out of Baltimore City in those areas."

A significant number of the robbery suspects have city addresses, Livesay said, and Howard police are seeing more sophisticated robbers who wear bulletproof vests and carry shotguns.

For example, within one week in November, two hotels in Jessup were held up by men carrying shotguns. Fairfield Inn on Crestmount Road was robbed by a man displaying a shortened, double-barrel shotgun Nov. 3, and a man with a shotgun robbed the Washington Boulevard Holiday Inn on Nov. 9.

To adapt to this trend, Livesay said, Howard police commanders have been meeting regularly with Baltimore County and city police commanders for the past nine months.

Apart from robberies and burglaries, no notable trends were evident in the new statistics.

The number of rapes and aggravated assaults each decreased by two incidents from 2000 to last year. The number of officers assaulted held steady at 105 in 2000 and last year, and the number of juvenile and adult arrests decreased slightly.

Just as the population has grown steadily in the past five years - 258,131 last year compared with 231,722 in 1997, according to county government statistics - so, too, has the number of calls for service - to 99,710 last year from 85,070 in 1997.

Since the police force assumed responsibility for the 911 center about nine months ago, Livesay said, service has improved greatly.

About 85 percent of calls to 911 are answered within 10 seconds, he said.

"The last thing I want is for someone calling with a genuine emergency to get a recorder," Livesay said. "To me, that's unacceptable."

More police than ever are available to respond to a call, Livesay noted. For the first time that he can remember, Livesay said, the department has no vacancies.

With a maximum number of officers available, Livesay has been able to move them into specialty units, such as the temporarily expanded warrant apprehension task force, which has served more than 100 warrants in the past month.

"We're always moving personnel to target spikes in crime," Livesay said. "We want to make the greatest impact we can on the overall crime picture."

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