Homicides down in Balto. County

34 seen in 2006, 6 fewer than in 2005

partnership between police, community credited

January 01, 2007|By Nick Shields | Nick Shields,Sun reporter

While the Baltimore region experienced a spike in homicides in 2006, Baltimore County was on pace for a less deadly year than 2005.

The county had recorded 34 homicides for 2006 as of yesterday, compared with 2005's homicide tally of 40.

The current total, however, is the second-highest in a decade. There were 29 homicides in 2004.

"It is unwise to look for logical, rational patterns to murder," county police spokesman Bill Toohey said. "A good part of [the decline] is good police work, getting people arrested and in jail so they cannot turn from a robber into a murderer."

Sue Kessler of Reisterstown, a police community relations council president, said she believes a working partnership between the Police Department and the community has contributed to the decline in homicides.

"I would [attribute] it to Baltimore County's finest, and we also have a lot of good community groups that work with the Police Department. They are the eyes and ears," she said.

But she added that any homicide in Baltimore County is alarming.

"I am concerned," she said. " ... I do not know what the answer is."

Of the 34 Baltimore County homicides, 24 have been cleared, police said. More than half of the cleared homicides were related to domestic violence or committed by an acquaintance of the victim, police said.

Toohey said that to counter domestic violence each precinct has an officer assigned to track and follow such cases.

"They track what is going on in their precinct, what they can do after the fact in order to prevent reoccurrence," Toohey said.

In recent weeks, Harford and Anne Arundel counties, Annapolis and Baltimore City have each seen their homicide totals surpass their 2005 tallies.

Baltimore County Council Chairman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat, said the Baltimore County Police Department's willingness to be proactive has helped to reduce crime and shape the force as one of the best in the nation. He suggested that neighboring areas might have contributed to crime in the county.

"We are in close proximity in other jurisdictions, particularly Baltimore City," he said. "Drug activity sometimes gets pushed into our jurisdiction, and some of that crime might be the result of that push that comes from one area to another."

nick.shields@baltsun.com

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