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Violent Crime Drops in U.S., Maryland

A look at homicide, one of four violent crimes, around Maryland.

Violent crime decreased nationally in 2011, and officials say the trend appears to be occurring in Maryland as well.

Overall, violent crimes fell nationally by 6.4 percent from January to June 2011, compared to the same time last year, according to preliminary FBI data.

The FBI classifies the following as violent crimes: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Maryland officials said they were not ready to give out statewide crime figures for 2011, but anecdotally, evidence suggests crime went down in 2011.

“The trends we’re seeing show again continued sharp reductions in violent crime in the major jurisdictions,” said Bill Toohey, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

In 2010, Maryland saw a 3.2 percent reduction in its murder rate, with a total of 426 homicides, according to state data.

Toohey credited the crime drop on technology for keeping violent offenders off the streets, such as license plate recognition, as well as Gov. Martin O'Malley’s Violence Prevention Initiative, a program created in 2007 that prioritized monitoring of high-risk offenders.

It’s a program that has also resulted in police and parole officers working more closely together, he said.  

“In general, parole agents are in communication with police, and in some cases, they are working side by side with police,” he said.

In 2010, Maryland had the eighth highest violent crime rate in the nation, according to FBI uniform reporting data.

Homicide rates thus far in 2011 varied throughout the state.

In 2011, Howard County had five homicides, compared to four in 2010, according to police and county crime data.

Baltimore County saw 30 homicides so far this year, compared to 24 in 2010. Spokeswoman Elise Armacost said 18 of the 30 were domestic-related, or people who knew one another.

The department held an event this month to educate people about resources for those under stress, she said.

"We know that these are difficult times, we know that that can sometimes push people into violent behavior. We want to take steps to prevent that," she said. "Eighteen out of 30 being domestic is cause of concern."

Carroll County Sheriff’s officials reported one homicide in 2011.

Major Ron Stevens, with the Westminster Police Department, said there were no homicides within city limits this year, compared to one last year.

“We think the community is a very safe place to live,” he said. “The major crimes that would normally be seen in Baltimore City—we don’t have that kind of crime…Most of ours are minor types of incidents.”

In Prince George’s County, there have been 93 homicides so far this year, compared to 89 for the same time period in 2010, a 4.5 percent change, said Prince George’s Police Corporal Evan Baxter.

Montgomery County reported 15 homicides in 2011 compared to 17 in 2010, said police spokeswoman Angela Cruz.

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