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Baltimore County Homicide Rate Hits Historic Low

Towson, Maryland (January 3, 2014) – Over the past four years, Baltimore County has recorded fewer total homicides than during any four-year period since the Carter Administration, as well as a homicide rate that is historically low.

Nineteen homicides occurred in Baltimore County in 2013 - fewer than in 2012 (23 homicides) and 2011 (30 homicides).

Most significantly, the homicide rate - the number of homicides in proportion to the population is far lower than since the 1970s because the population has grown by 163,000 people since then: 818,287 in 2013 compared to the mid-600,000s in the 1970s and early 1980s.

A 43 Percent Cut

Under the current administration and Police Chief James Johnson, the homicide rate has been cut by nearly 43 percent from what it was the year Lennon was shot and Mount St. Helens erupted. In 1980, the rate was four homicides per 100,000 residents; in 2013, the rate is 2.3 homicides per 100,000 residents.

"One homicide is one crime too many," said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  "Still, we are pleased that by all standards our county is safer than it has ever been."

The total number of homicides over the past four years, during the watch of the Kamenetz administration is lower than at any continuous four-year period since 1976 to 1979.

Case Clearance Rates

Case clearance rates are a measure of how well a police agency solves crime and holds criminals accountable. The Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) has some of the highest Part I violent crime case clearance rates in the nation - well above the national average for all Part I violent crimes - homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

BCoPD's homicide clearance rates are so good that in September 2013 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) featured BCoPD in a 54-page publication on best practices for homicide clearance. Researchers from the Bureau of Justice Assistance visited our Homicide Unit to examine our staffing, management, resources and investigative strategies.

The study focused on 2011, a year in which BCoPD's 83.3 percent homicide clearance rate exceeded the national average of 62 percent by more than 21 percent.

In 2012, our homicide clearance rate was an incredible 95.7 percent, compared to the national average of 62.5 percent.

Department Of Justice Study

"The DOJ study found what we have known all along to be true," said Police Chief James Johnson. "We do an exceptional job of clearing cases because we use state-of-the art technology and forensics, because our communities trust us and work with us, and most of all because we hire, train and retain quality investigators who understand that solving crime is not an academic exercise."

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger credited BCoPD's quality investigative work to his success in prosecuting criminals and thus reducing crime.

"Prosecutors can only win cases that are solved," he said. "Quality cases mean lengthy sentences. Lengthy sentences mean criminals are not on the street to commit additional offenses. It really is a simple equation. The police build good cases, the prosecutors seek lengthy sentences and the criminals end up in jail."

About Crime Statistics

BCoPD compiles crime statistics in accordance with the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

In 2011, Baltimore County began presenting annual crime statistics in the context of a multi-year average, rather than simply comparing the numbers to those for 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.

The number of homicides in 2013 was well below the previous five-year average.