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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: police

by Police Chief James Johnson

Statistics for the first half of 2012 show crime in each of the County’s 10 precincts trending downward.

Data provided by our Crime Analysis Unit show that Part I crimes – the most serious crimes – decreased by 8.6 percent during the first six months of this year compared to the previous five-year average for the same time period. Total crime – Part I and Part II – declined by 5.4 percent from the previous five-year average.

Before we get into the details, a word about how we look at crime statistics in Baltimore County: In 2011, we began comparing current crime data against the previous five-year average rather than against the previous year. In any given year, a host of factors – weather is one of the most significant – may cause crime to spike up or down. Such short-term comparisons often do not provide a true picture of local crime. I believe we should focus on trends, on whether crime is rising or falling over the longer term.

In the first six months of 2012, Part I violent crime decreased by 348 cases from the previous five-year average for the same period. There were 1,942 violent crimes in the first six months of the year, down from the previous five-year average of 2,290.

Part I property crime decreased by 898 cases; there were 11,268 Part I property crimes from January through June, compared to 12,166 for the previous five-year average. That is a 7.4 percent decrease from the previous five-year average.

Rape, which increased by nine cases, from 71 to 80, is the only category of Part I violent crime that exceeded the previous five-year average during the first six months of the year. The other types of violent crime all dropped:

  •     Homicide decreased by five cases, from 15 to 10
  •     Robbery decreased by 88 cases, from 726 to 638
  •     Aggravated assault decreased by 264 cases, from 1,478 to 1,214

All categories of Part I property crime compared favorably to the previous five-year average:

  • Burglary decreased by 70 cases, from 2,033 to 1,963.
  • Theft decreased by 356 cases, from 8,823 to 8,467.
  • Motor vehicle theft decreased by 446 cases, from 1,172 to 726.  
  • Arson decreased by 26 cases, from 138 to 112.

Total Part I crime – violent crime and property crime – for the first six months of 2012 decreased by 1,246 cases, from 14,456 to 13,210, when compared to the previous five-year average.

Part II crime also declined during the first half of the year. Part II crime includes simple assaults, sex offenses, drug violations, vandalism and many other crimes. During the first half of 2012, Part II crime declined by 509 cases, from 17,862 to 17,353.

In addition, our clearance rates for Part I crime continue to exceed the national average as determined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting System. This means we are solving crimes and getting criminals off the street.

I am always cautiously optimistic when providing positive crime news such as this.

Optimistic, because we know we truly are making Baltimore County safer when data over a five-year period shows declines in almost every category of crime. Cautious, because human nature cannot be controlled.

We have an extraordinary team of personnel committed to public safety. We are focused on crime prevention and reduction, using technology and partnerships to continue the great crime reductions we have experienced over the last several years.

As always, we will look closely at the next set of crime statistics to see if the downward trend holds. The never-ending work of determining the best strategies to keep Baltimore County safe continues.


Gun Lock Program Baltimore CountyBy Police Chief James Johnson

Ever since two widely publicized gun incidents in our schools – one on August 27 and another on September 11 – I have stressed how critically important it is for gun owners to lock up their weapons.

Both the Perry Hall High and Stemmers Middle incidents occurred because kids were able to obtain a gun. In the Stemmers Run case, the grandfather of the boy who brought the handgun to school was charged for violating Maryland law, which requires that gun owners secure loaded firearms from children 15 and younger. The law did not apply in the Perry Hall shooting, because the suspect’s father’s shotgun was kept unloaded.

Baltimore County Police will continue to hold violators of the “access to minors” law accountable, and we will continue to encourage gun owners to secure unloaded weapons, even though the law doesn’t require it.

In addition, County Executive Kamenetz and I today announced a new gun lock distribution program that, we believe, makes it as easy as possible for gun owners to secure their firearms.

The program is simple: We are making a basic but law enforcement-tested gun lock available – free of charge – at all 10 police precincts and the Public Safety Building in Towson. Gun owners who show proof that they are Baltimore County residents may receive up to three locks.

In a perfect world, all gun owners would store their weapons in a strong, heavy safe. In the real world, that option is neither practical nor affordable for many people.

The cable locks we are providing are both practical and affordable. The Baltimore County Police Foundation – a wonderful non-profit partner dedicated to supporting quality police service – donated $4,700 to help us purchase 2,000 locks.

The locks – available immediately -- are easy to use and compatible with most handguns and long guns. When you visit a precinct or the Public Safety Building to obtain a lock, our officers will demonstrate how to use it and will include instructions with the locking device.

With this new program, there simply is no excuse for leaving firearms unsecured.

Those of us who are legally qualified and choose to own guns have a right to do so. We also have a responsibility to keep these weapons from being misused by children, criminals and others with no business handling guns.


Baltimore County Police logoby Police Chief James Johnson

Following tragedies such as Monday’s Perry Hall High School shooting, we all search for lessons, for knowledge that can help us avoid something similar one day down the road.

Over the past week, I’ve heard many people ask how the 15-year-old suspect, Robert Wayne Gladden Jr., managed to get the shotgun – kept in his father’s home in Hawthorne – used to critically injure classmate Daniel Borowy and victimize an entire community.

It’s a logical question – but there’s an equally logical question that has been overlooked: Why didn’t Gladden use the multiple firearms in his mother and stepfather’s home in the 8500 block of Bradshaw Road?

This shooting, as devastating as it was, could have been worse. Police have evidence that Gladden was well aware of the guns in his stepfather’s home but knew he could not access them because they were locked in a safe.

One person was shot on Monday. As I see it, there could have been more victims but for two factors: The quick and heroic actions of the guidance counselor who rushed to subdue Gladden, and Gladden’s inability to obtain his stepfather’s weapons.

The shotgun Gladden used in this crime holds two rounds of ammunition. It is capable of inflicting deadly damage. Still, reloading it takes time, and it is not as easy to use as more contemporary weapons.

Now consider some of the weapons and ammunition in the Bradshaw Road home as described in the District Court statement of charges already released to the public:

  • Zhongzhou 20-gauge shotgun
  • Boito 12-gauge shotgun
  • Sears Roebuck & Co Model 100 30-30 caliber rifle
  • Marlin Model 30-30 caliber rifle
  • Remington 22 caliber auto loader
  • Remington shotgun
  • Remington Sportsman 12 gauge shotgun
  • Ruger P95 9mm semiautomatic handgun
  • Loaded handgun magazine and assorted live ammunition

Some of these weapons are easier to use and have higher capacity magazines than the shotgun used in the shooting. The Ruger handgun is a semiautomatic weapon capable of rapidly firing multiple rounds. That weapon would have been particularly destructive, had Gladden been able to use it in the cafeteria.

Gladden did not take one or more of these weapons to Perry Hall High on the first day of school because he literally could not put his hands on them. Andrew Piper, Gladden’s stepfather, is legally prohibited from owning weapons. But at least he locked these guns in a safe.

Gladden took the Western Field double-barreled shotgun – unsecured in his father’s Hawthorne Road home -- and carried it to school because it was the only weapon he could get.

Maryland law requires gun owners to secure loaded firearms from children 15 and younger. The Perry Hall shooting shows that not securing unloaded weapons – while legal – is dangerous as well. As a police chief, I encourage gun owners to do more than the law requires by securing all weapons, loaded or unloaded. This is neither difficult nor expensive; there are many affordable gun-locking devices on the market.

Regardless of our opinions about guns and gun control, we ought to be able to agree on this: The consequences of not securing firearms in the home can be disastrous.

If you are a gun owner, I hope that is one of the lessons you take away from what happened at Perry Hall High this week.


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