When it comes to crime in Harford County, "we're in the best shape we've ever been," Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane said Wednesday.
Bane spoke at Aberdeen's HEAT Center before the county's Economic Development Advisory Board to explain the status of the county and what the Harford County Sheriff's Office is doing to work with local businesses to reduce crime.
"There's a serious gap between public safety and the working business community," Bane said. "Unless [people] really need you, they don't pay too much attention to crime or the Sheriff's Office or public safety."
In fact, the two should go hand in hand, he added, because a lower crime rate attracts businesses.
A statistic Bane has mentioned previously, Harford County has the second lowest crime rate in Maryland.
"We're in better shape than we have ever been when it comes to our crime rate," he said. Carroll County is first in the state and Harford is the only major metropolitan county in the top five.
Burglaries, however, continue to be an issue.
"The burglary rates are killing us," Bane said. "We're struggling with that almost daily to figure out how to deal with that issue. We know why and where it's occurring, it's just getting a handle on it."
Another huge concern is traffic safety.
"Everywhere we go today, when we go to community groups, that's all they want to talk about," the sheriff said.
Bane explained the four things that determine traffic safety are law enforcement, education on traffic laws, a county or city's emergency medical system and the engineering of the roads.
While the sheriff's office can help with enforcing traffic laws, "I cannot influence the other ones," Bane said. "I can have input, but that responsibility falls to others to take the lead on that."
Bane has lived in Harford County since 1954 when the area was much more rural and dirt roads were prominent.
Today, "particularly the further north you go," he said, "there's nothing more than original dirt roads that were paved over for traffic."
The issue with that is those rural roads were not engineered to handle traffic flow, with shoulders, and speeding.
"Our traffic safety is deplorable," Bane continued. "We have the fifth highest fatality rate in the state of Maryland, and the crash rate isn't that much better, either."
Even with that startling statistic, Bane said the county's accident rate is still lower now than it was 10 years ago, with traffic fatalities about half of what they were.
Del. Susan McComas, who represents the Bel Air and Abingdon areas, asked Bane what the "hot spots" for traffic accidents were in the county.
Bane listed a few, including the intersection of Routes 152 and 1 in Fallston and Routes 152 and 40 in Joppa.