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Annapolis police reports 2018 serious crimes at lowest point on record, rapes spike

Annapolis police reports 2018 serious crimes at lowest point on record, rapes spike
Mayor Gavin Buckley speaks with Annapolis City Police Chief Scott Baker at a public meeting in 2017. (Matthew Cole / Capital Gazette)

While Annapolis had the lowest number of serious crimes in nearly 50 years, reported rapes in the city nearly doubled last year, according to police statistics released Wednesday.

There were two percent less reported crimes over the previous year making 2018 the lowest in crimes since Gerald Ford was president.

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The overall crime statistics are gathered by Annapolis City Police under rules established by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program and reported to the federal agency. The serious crimes measured are categorized as Part One crimes, four violent crimes - homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault - and three property crimes - burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.

Both violent and property crimes dropped by two percent over 2017, which also had historic low crime levels.

“The members of the Annapolis Police Department work hard every day to keep our residents and visitors safe,” said Chief Scott Baker. “We cannot achieve this level of crime reduction without the help and active participation of residents.”

Mayor Gavin Buckley heralded the police work.

“I want to congratulate our public safety employees for the great work they have done in keeping residents safe. Let’s keep moving in that direction,” he said.

The kink in the otherwise upbeat 2018 report was a nearly doubling in reported rapes over 2017. There were 27 rapes reported, a jump from 15 reported the previous year. It was the second highest number of rapes reported within the data provided. In 1989, there were 28 reported rapes.

City police spokesman Sgt. Amy Miguez said it was hard to determine whether rapes are occuring more often or people are reporting incidents with greater awareness created via media reports about sexual assault and the #MeToo. “It is one of those crimes that is very personal.”

Chief Baker was very careful not to downplay the numbers or minimize the impact of sexual assault but he did say other factors could explain the rising numbers.

“The FBI changed the definition of rape. It is now much more that the the old definition of penetration by a male on a female,” he said.

He also noted that the majority of rape cases are people known to each other, in a romantic or familial relationship. “There is not a serial rapist running around. These are not cases where women are grabbed off the street and raped,” he said.

“I am not trying to minimize it, the numbers are very disturbing,” he added.

Baker said he is not sure what corrective action police can take other that finding some way to educate the public about how wrong sexual assault is. “I don’t know the answer,” he said.

The largest decreases in violent crimes was the numbers of homicides and robberies. There was one homicide in Annapolis in 2018, compared to seven in 2017.

Robberies dropped from 63 reported in 2017 to 47 in 2018.

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Overall, Baker is pleased with the progress. “I am happy with the numbers. We have come along way in the past 10 years. The numbers are down by almost half.”

That is true. The total violent and property crimes in 2018 were 1,125. In 2007 the total was 2,235.

Baker said the public has had a lot to do with the trend. “By reporting suspicious behavior and by taking proactive measures, such as locking car doors and removing valuables or securing their home they can help drive the numbers even lower."

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