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baltimoresun.com

Howard's violent crime rate lowest in five years, according to report

By Sara Toth, stoth@tribune.com

5:08 PM EDT, April 9, 2013

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Crime is down in Howard County, and crime rates are lower than state averages, according to the 2012 crime report from the Howard County Police Department.

The police department released the new crime report Tuesday, April 9, which shows reductions in crime in the last year. In 2012, violent crime was at its lowest rate in five years, according to the department.

The county's crime rate — which measures the number of crimes per 100,000 people — dropped from 2,466 in 2011 to 2,387 in 2012. Maryland's crime rate is 3,380. The county crime rate for violent crimes is down from 204 to 197. The violent crime rate for Maryland is 494.

However, reported rapes, aggravated assaults and assaults on police officers saw slight increases from the previous year. Though the number of reported burglaries is lower than the county's five-year average, those also saw a small increase over the previous year.

In a news release, Police Chief Bill McMahon attributed the reduced crime to "strategic policing" and focusing heavily on identifying crime patterns and repeat offenders.

In 2012, the Repeat Offenders Proactive Enforcement Section improved surveillance efforts, which led to the arrest of multiple career criminals, according to the department.

County Executive Ken Ulman applauded the police department for its efforts to reduce crime.

"Their crime-fighting strategies are yielding positive results, especially when it comes to keeping repeat offenders off the streets."

Last year, the department also implemented a new, statistics-driven policing model, directing patrols based on crime data and trends.

The department also continued to work on traffic safety in 2012, with programs focusing on speed cameras, drunk driving and seatbelt enforcement. According to the department, the county saw fewer fatal crashes in 2012.

"Howard County has great amenities, but in order for residents and visitors to enjoy them, they must feel safe," McMahon said. "These numbers show that Howard County is one of the safest areas to live, work and visit."