UPDATED (2:07 p.m.)—Baltimore County officials attributed a nearly 36 percent decrease in homicides last year to good police work, better technology and aggressive prosecutions.
Chief Jim Johnson, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger announced the decrease in homicides during a Monday news conference at the county Public Safety Building in Towson.
The 20 homicides recorded last year were nearly 36 percent less than the 31 killings in 2009 and 50 percent less than 2005, when the county recorded 40 killings.
Johnson said he believes better technology and law enforcement are getting criminals off the streets. Shellenberger said successful prosecutions are putting more criminals behind bars.
The two efforts have led to what Johnson said was a prevention of murders in the county.
Of the 20 homicides last year, police have solved 17. Johnson said detectives continue to actively investigate the remaining three.
Baltimore County homicides 2005-2010 (Source: Baltimore County Police Department.)Year Homicides Change % Change 2005 40 11 37.9 2006 34 -6 -15 2007 36 2 5.9 2008 30 -6 -16.7 2009 31 1 3.3 2010 20 -11 -35.5
"When you're solving 80 to 85 percent of your homicides and we're getting convictions, that means they're locked up and won't commit another crime," Shellenberger said. "As you know, a very small number of individuals commit the majority of crime in this state."
The reduction in homicides is part of a nearly four-year downward trend in the county. Last year, county officials said some crime rates were at their lowest points since the 1970s.
"In recent years, Baltimore County has experienced historic lows in crimes, and the trend has not abated," Kamenetz said.
It's also lower than the 34 killings on average between 2005 and 2009, according to county police statistics.
Over the previous six years, the county has averaged about 34 murders a year with 40 in 2005 being the most during that period. Last year's totals are the lowest.
Johnson said there's no reason to believe the county's murder rate won't stabilize, rather than go back up.
"I don't think it is (an anomaly)," Johnson said, adding that there are currently only five homicides in the county so far this year—the same number at this time in 2010.
Johnson also said there is something else at work in the county.
"I say there's something else at play here in our county," Johnson said. However, he didn't elaborate.