City, county crime rate stable

February 05, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The amount of serious crime in 2003 in Washington County, especially Hagerstown, remained about the same as 2002's numbers, according to police officials and information released by the FBI.

Projections by the Hagerstown Police Department for 2004 call for the total number of serious, Part I, crimes to remain exactly the same.

According to the FBI's "Crime in the United States: 2003," there were 1,764 Part I crimes reported in Hagerstown, 1,202 in Washington County and 248,196 in the state of Maryland in 2003. The FBI includes the following as Part I crimes: murder/non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.


The most common crimes in Hagerstown and the county were incidents of property crime and larceny theft.

In the city, there were 1,526 reported property crimes and 1,009 incidents of larceny theft. In the county, there were 1,055 property crimes and 735 larceny/theft reports.

The least reported serious crime for both was murder and non-negligent manslaughter - Hagerstown, none, and Washington County, one.

Among the biggest criminal problems in Hagerstown in 2003, were the drug trade and domestic assaults, said Capt. Charles Summers, acting chief of the Hagerstown Police Department.

"We don't hide from it," Summers said. "We seek the charges, which pumps up the numbers. If you're going to actively attack crime, it'll look like numbers are high."

According to FBI numbers, the total number of crimes did not change between 2002 and 2003. Based on unofficial information compiled and released by the city department, the total of serious crimes in both 2003 and 2004 was 1,764.

Lt. Richard Johnson said officials couldn't believe the carbon copy results.

"The chief (Arthur Smith) asked me to go back over the numbers," Johnson said.

Summers said the department hopes to keep numbers constant in 2005 with the use of newer tools such as downtown surveillance cameras and the group Citizens On Patrol, which helps police patrol the city on Friday and Saturday nights.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Capt. Douglas Mullendore said the 2003 FBI information was consistent with information reported by the county for nearly a decade. He said little stood out about the newest numbers.

"There might be a category or two where it has increased, but it has overall been pretty much the same," he said.

Mullendore said the challenge for his department and the city would be to continue that consistency during population increases expected in the near future.

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