With a preliminary report indicating a 2.6 percent drop in crime over the first nine months of 2006, officials expect that Carroll County will top all other jurisdictions as the safest in the state.
From January through September, the county saw fewer aggravated assaults, larcenies and auto thefts than during the same period in 2005. Neither year had any homicides during the nine-month span, though there were two homicides from 2005 - a man who was beaten in July and died from his injuries later that year, and a man who was shot and killed in December outside a Westminster convenience store.
"For the past four to five years, we've always been in the top three to be the safest county in the state," said Lt. Dean Richardson, commander of the Maryland State Police Westminster barracks, at a Thursday roundtable with the county commissioners. This year "we will probably be right at the very top."
The preliminary data - which precede an annual uniform crime report for the year - consider figures for serious crimes but do not include cases such as driving under the influence. Although Carroll saw increases in robberies and burglaries, the county had 63 fewer total cases over the nine-month period.
"The statistics there speak for themselves," said County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes. "In Carroll County, when individuals are convicted of all types of crimes, and especially serious crimes, they're receiving appropriate and severe sentences. A lot of criminals basically steer clear of this jurisdiction."
While the preliminary report shows that Maryland averaged a 3 percent drop in total crime, only five counties and Baltimore City recorded fewer serious offenses.
"I think most people who live here would agree that Carroll County is a safe place to live," said county Deputy State's Attorney David P. Daggett. "Statistically speaking, the population of Carroll County is growing but the amount of crimes" are not.
Barnes also credited the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police.
"They do a very thorough job, and I think their presence in the community and on the highways definitely deters crime," he said.