Police: Crime dropped in Howard County in 2011

Howard County's already-low crime rate is even lower, according to annual statistics for 2011 that police released today.

And three types of crimes — robberies, burglaries and auto thefts — are the lowest they have been in several years.

"The reductions in crime we continue to see in Howard County are a direct reflection of our partnership with the community," county police Chief William McMahon said in a statement. "Our efforts have included adding new officers and restructuring our patrol beats to be more effective.

"We have focused heavily on identifying emerging crime patterns and repeat offenders," he said. "We've increased our use of technology to better serve the public. And we have instituted new programs that focus on our county's youth to encourage positive relationships between officers and young people."

The crime rate is measured by the number of crimes per 100,000 people. The 2011 crime rate was 2,454, which is a drop of 91, or 3.5 percent, from 2010.

The state average crime rate is 3,549. Howard County's is nearly 31 percent lower.

Howard County also is much lower than the Maryland average when it comes to violent crimes, which statewide is 547 crimes per 100,000 people. The county's rate is 204, which is nearly 63 percent lower.

Robberies in the county are the lowest they have been since 2002. Last year there were a total of 211 cases, which is 11 less than in 2010.

Burglaries and auto thefts, meanwhile, were at their lowest since 1999. There were 1,108 burglaries reported in 2011, which is a drop of 285 from 2010; and there were 366 motor vehicle thefts last year, down 14 from 2010.

There also was a significant drop in cases of police officers being assaulted, with 90 in 2011, a decrease from the 114 cases in 2010; and fewer deaths from motor vehicle crashes, falling from 15 in 2010 to 13 in 2011.

Howard County police handled four homicides in 2011, three of which were closed. The department responded to and closed four homicides in 2010. A fifth death from 2011 that the department is investigating, an oxycodone overdose of an Ellicott City quadriplegic, has been classified as a manslaughter, according to police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.

Maryland State Police, meanwhile, investigated two additional homicides in 2011 and one in 2010, deaths that occurred at the Clifton T. Perkins state psychiatric hospital in Jessup.

There were a couple of increases in 2011. Aggravated assaults rose from 307 in 2010 to 353 last year, a 14.3 percent increase. Llewellyn noted that there were 23 percent more arrests in those cases in 2011 than in the year before.

Also, there was an increase in reported rapes, she said, from 25 in 2010 to 31 in 2011. That number remains lower than from 2006 through 2009, Llewellyn said.

Meanwhile, the number of calls for service increased slightly last year, from 128,358 to 128,943. The statistic measures the demand placed upon the department, Llewellyn said.

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