Three Harford County municipalities are among the safest towns in Maryland in 2018, according to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, a trade organization for the security alarm industry.
Aberdeen ranks fourth, Havre de Grace fifth and Bel Air eighth, in terms of rates of violent and property crimes, according to the safety council.
Last year, Bel Air ranked ninth, Havre de Grace 10th and Aberdeen was 15th, according to the safety council’s website, www.alarms.org.
While Bel Air’s ranking dropped, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen improved their positions.
The rankings come as the City of Baltimore, with 343 murders in 2017, was ranked the most dangerous city in the nation by USA Today.
“On behalf of the mayor and council, I want to thank the men and women of the [Aberdeen Police Department] for the extraordinary job they are doing to help warrant recognition as the fourth safest city in the state of Maryland,” Aberdeen City Manager Randy Robertson wrote in an email Feb. 14 to Police Chief Henry Trabert.
While many may say Aberdeen isn’t a safe place to live and work, the rankings provide “documented, quantifiable evidence of our standing and our success,” Robertson said.
“Not only are we the fourth most safe city in the state, as measured through FBI statistics, but the safest city in Harford County,” he added. “Again, kudos to you and the men and women of the APD. Well done!”
The National Council for Home Safety and Security is a trade association comprised of licensed alarm installers, contractors and other relevant trade groups across the United States. Its stated goal is to further industry education and public knowledge about home safety and security.
With a population of 15,704, 79 violent crimes and 251 property crimes were reported in Aberdeen, a rate of 5.03 violent crimes per 1,000 people and 22.64 property crimes per 1,000 people, according to the website.
In Havre de Grace, with a population of 13,604, there were 37 violent crimes (2.72 per 1,000 people) and 308 property crimes (22.64 per 1,000 people).
Bel Air’s population was 10,200, with 22 violent crimes (2.16 per 1,000 people) and 255 property crimes (25 per 1,000 people).
Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore said his department is proactive.
“We’re doing what we’re supposed to do as law enforcement,” Moore said. “When we see a problem we try to take care of it. If it’s a criminal act, we do our best to try and solve it, or take steps to prevent it in the future.”
Bel Air Police work closely with other local departments, meeting once a month about what they can do to make “Bel Air a safe place and place for people to want to come and shop, or conduct business or to attend many of our events we have here,” Moore said. “We want to make sure we have a safe place.”
Judging by the number of people at events in the town — July 4, Maryland Barbecue Bash and others —Moore says it’s clear people feel safe and they enjoy what Bel Air has to offer.
He said retail thefts have increased in the town in the last year, “but we’re taking steps to reduce those and hold those people accountable,” he said.
It could be the reason for the town’s drop in ranking from 2017 to 2018. Bel Air is the highest retail center in the county, hence an uptick in retail theft, but the department is taking steps to resolve that issue.
“Our message: if you come here, there’s a very good possibility you’re going to get caught,” Moore said. “We want to send a message out to them to not do it here. Not do it at all, but to especially avoid this area.”
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Bel Air Mayor Susan Burdette praised her town’s ranking during Tuesday night’s town meeting, saying “it is nice to add to our list.” She didn’t mention Bel Air was ranked behind its two Harford County sister municipalities, but acknowledged such afterward when talking about rankings with a reporter from The Aegis.