Baltimore County Now
Baltimore County Chief of Highways
Everybody’s curious about the price tag. How much does it cost to plow the roads and keep them open every winter?
In Baltimore County, when there’s a hint of snow – when the weather person says there’s a chance for precip tomorrow – we, in the Bureau of Highways, Department of Public Works, begin looking very carefully at the bottom line. Because as soon as the word goes out that we’ve got snow duty – that we’re on the clock – we’re on the meter too.
This year we expect that plowing snow (that’s with a staff of 400 employees manning three hundred trucks working from 11 shops) will cost more than $37,000 per hour. And when we put down salt, that price goes up to $108,000 per hour. That’s because salt costs more than $50 a ton and we stock about 50,000 tons at 14 locations across the county.
Sunday’s storm cost the County $1.4 million. We’re still tabulating the expenses related yesterday’s snow and will post the total shortly.
It’s expensive, of course, but the total cost to keep the streets clear and safe varies wildly from year to year. Last year was an economical year for us. Baltimore County spent a little under $4 million to call out crews, to salt and to plow for 13 storms – many of them just dustings. But “Snowmageddon” back in 2010 was more than five times as expensive. The bills came to $20 million. Snow accumulation that winter was estimated at seven feet!
For a complete picture, take a look at our website for a listing of storm costs since Fiscal Year 2001.
During the past 13 years the cost has gone from a low of $2 million (when accumulation was a mere six inches in 2002) to the colossal winter four years ago. The average is about $7 million. But whatever the cost, you can rest assured that Baltimore County's Highway crews will give it our all to keep the streets open this year.
Jordan Fish, Baltimore County Tourism & Promotion
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, Baltimore County is in the holiday spirit! Be sure to check our list of the many events and programs going on around the County during the month of December. From train gardens to tree lightings – it’s the most wonderful time of the year in Baltimore County!
Christmas Open House at Basignani Winery - Christmas time very special at Basignani Winery. Visit the north Baltimore County winery for its annual celebration of the Tuscan Christmas. Experience an Italian Christmas as Basignani transforms the tasting room and piazza into a little piece of Tuscany. Taste the wines and try some seasonal Tuscan Christmas treats.
December Saturdays at DeJon Vineyards - Join DeJon Vineyards, located in Hydes, during the first 3 Saturdays of December for free live music, tasty treats, and decorative scenery. They deck the halls with a giant Christmas tree and train garden in the tasting room. Each week different acoustic musicians will perform classic holiday songs, as well as their regular catalog of tunes.
Holiday Hoopla - December 7th is the official start of the holiday season in Dundalk! The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation joins forces with Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation to create a day with lots of tradition, memory-making and fun for all ages. Some of the event highlights include a parade with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a delicious cookie tour, and the train garden at the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum.
Holidays at Hampton....a Yuletide Celebration - Get into the holiday spirit early with “Holidays at Hampton” where the public can celebrate the season at Hampton Mansion, Baltimore County's only National Park. The “Holidays at Hampton” Yuletide weekend, Dec. 13th - 15th, includes special evening tours, antique cars, period crafts, musical and dance performances, African-American storytelling and unique holiday shopping in the Museum Shop. All of the festivities are free and open to the public.
Holiday Train Garden at the Fire Museum of Maryland - Kids of all ages will enjoy the Holiday Train Garden at the Fire Museum of Maryland. The layout features the Bromo Seltzer Tower and a burning building, complete with fire engines and hoses crisscrossing the fire ground. Watch Antique O-Scale trains and a street car wind their way past many of Baltimore’s famous neighborhoods and landmarks.
Jacksonville in Miniature for the Holidays - Now in its third year, Jacksonville in Miniature has grown into an animated wonderland. Train team members combine their talents to create replicas of local landmarks, scenes of "life in Jacksonville", and, of course, operating model trains. Located at the Jacksonville Senior Center, the 2013 display is expanding beyond Jacksonville to include the Ocean City boardwalk and the Washington D.C. Mall.
Towson WinterFest - Presented by the Towson Chamber of Commerce, WinterFest features numerous events in the downtown Towson area throughout December. Activities range from family friendly breakfasts with the Grinch and Frosty, to Ho Ho Happy Hours at area bars and restaurants. Check out the full schedule of events.
Wine Country Christmas at Boordy Vineyards – On December Saturdays, through the 21st, Boordy's Barn is the perfect setting for seasonal merry-making with traditional music, a tour of the winery, and steaming Wassail (a specialty from Boordy for over twenty-five years). Wines may be purchased by the glass or bottle for enjoying in the barn with your friends. The wine shop will be brimming with gifts for the hard to please wine lovers!
To find out about other great happenings in Baltimore County throughout the year, visit the Baltimore County Tourism and Promotion events calendar.
Police Chief James Johnson
When we talk about crime statistics, we too often overlook clearance rates – the numbers that tell us whether a police agency is doing a good job of solving crime.
Here in Baltimore County, our clearance rates are excellent, well above the national average.
In fact, the Baltimore County Police Department’s clearance rates are so good that the U.S. Department of Justice has featured BCoPD in a September 2013 publication, “Homicide Process Mapping, Best Practices for Increasing Homicide Clearances.”
This 54-page study examined seven law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. with outstanding homicide clearance rates, seeking to understand what these agencies are doing right. BCoPD is one of these model agencies.
The introduction to the study says, “Although the national clearance rate average has continued to drop, some individual law enforcement agencies have excelled in clearing homicides, with clearance rates of 80 percent and higher. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) wanted to understand how some agencies were so successful in their homicide investigations.”
Researchers from the Bureau of Justice Assistance visited our Homicide Unit to examine our staffing, management, resources and investigative strategies. The publication will be used by other law enforcement agencies interested in improving their homicide investigations and clearance rates.
In law enforcement parlance, “clearance” means that a case has been solved because the offender has been identified and either arrested, has died or the homicide ruled justifiable.
The DOJ study focused on 2011, a year in which BCoPD’s 83.3 percent homicide clearance rate far exceeded the national average (62 percent).
More recently, in 2012, the national clearance rate for homicide in 2012 was 62.5 percent. Baltimore County’s clearance rate was 95.7 percent.
Our clearance rate for all Part I violent crime – the most serious crimes, including rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – has exceeded the national average going all the way back to 1995.
Here are the most recent 2012 clearance rates for Part I violent crimes other than homicide:
• Rape -- BCoPD, 69.7 percent; national average, 40.1 percent
• Robbery – BCoPD, 48.4 percent; national average, 28.1 percent
• Aggravated assault – BCoPD, 84.1 percent; national average, 55.8 percent
In 2012, our clearance rate for all Part I violent crime – homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – was 71.9 percent, or 25.1 percent higher than the national average.
The clearance rates for property crime typically are lower than for crimes against people because there often is no contact between the victim and the suspects; detectives may not even have a suspect description to use during their investigation. Even with those challenges, clearance rates for Part I property crimes such as burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft were 14.1 percent above the national average.
What accounts for our success in clearing crime? The DOJ study answers this question quite well: “A stronger professional fabric, the investment of time and effort to build trust within the community, a willingness to challenge the status quo in performing investigative tasks and” – this last point is especially important – “a professionally developed and trained investigative workforce.”
BCoPD has worked hard over the years to give investigators the best technological tools, including skilled crime analysis personnel, forensics and other support services.
But the ability to solve crime starts and ends with hiring, training, retraining and retaining quality investigators – academically advanced law enforcement officers who understand that building a quality investigation is like crafting a fine piece of furniture. It takes time, care, precision and persistence.
The credit for Baltimore County’s outstanding crime clearance rates rests largely with our detectives and patrol officers. The work our investigators are doing is as good as, if not better than, that of any agency in the nation. I hope that our citizens are as appreciative of this as I am.