By Jim Johnson
Baltimore County Police Chief
The Baltimore County Police Department’s 2011 crime report, now available online here, takes a more comprehensive approach to crime trends than ever before.
In addition to providing year-to-year information, for the first time this report looks at five-year trends. I asked our Crime Analysis Unit to compare 2011 data with the previous five-year averages for each category of crime because I am convinced that we can’t understand whether we’re making progress in reducing crime simply by looking at the short term; we also need to look at how we’re doing over time.
A single year of crime data can be influenced significantly by weather, civil disturbances and the random–or even once-in-a-lifetime–event. We get a better picture of how we are doing when we take the longer view.
The 2011 report shows that our Police Department is fulfilling the mission of reducing crime – both in the short term and the long term.
Looking at crime numbers from 2006 to 2011, it becomes increasingly apparent that 2010 was an extremely unusual year – probably because of the February 2010 double blizzard that kept people inside for weeks. That year, every category of Part I violent and property crime fell well below levels seen from 2006 to 2009.
In 2011, total Part I violent crime dropped even more. In 2010, there were 4,305 incidents; in 2011, the number fell to 4,250. Part I property crime increased slightly.
The real news, however, is how 2011 crime levels compare to the previous five-year average. The crime totals in seven of the eight categories of Part I crime – the most serious crimes – were lower in 2011 than the previous five-year average for each category. (The exception was homicide, in which the total number of crimes equaled the five-year average.)
Looking at the five-year averages, we have reduced Part I violent crime by more than 14 percent; Part I property crime by nearly 8 percent and Part II crime by nearly 9 percent. In 2011, we drove down total crime below the previous five-year average by an impressive 9 percent.
In addition, Baltimore County Police continue to excel at solving crimes and getting criminals off the street. Year after year, our clearance rates for Part I crime exceed the national average as determined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program; for some crimes, our clearance rates almost double the national average. We expect this pattern to continue.
When we see crime dropping over time and criminals prosecuted for their actions, we know our law enforcement strategies are working. I encourage you to join me in thanking our more than 1,900 officers and hundreds of civilian professional staff for their hard work in making the County safer, and for continuing the fight against crime into 2012 and beyond.