Police see increase in some crimes during 2006

January 16, 2007|by PEPPER BALLARD

WASHINGTON COUNTY - An increase in crimes like robberies and burglaries in 2006 is related to "the dark side" of growth in Washington County, according to Sheriff Douglas Mullendore.

"Crime has gone up more than we are capable of taking care of," Mullendore said. "... The risk of being arrested for a crime is decreasing because the resources to arrest has remained the same."

The number of burglaries handled by the Sheriff's Department increased by more than 100 from 2005 to 2006. Mullendore said deputies handled 376 burglaries in 2006, compared with 272 burglaries in 2005.

He said his department is dealing with some crimes they haven't had to handle as frequently in the past. Those include computer crimes such as identity theft, fraud and child pornography.


Mullendore said deputies made 13.86 percent more arrests from December 2005 to December 2006, while the sheriff's department had the same number of deputies.

The number of traffic deaths, robberies and burglaries in Washington County increased in 2006 while the number of homicides - four - remained the same as in 2005, police said.

Hagerstown Police Department Chief Arthur Smith said he didn't have figures on his department's crime statistics. He said that a string of reported armed robberies in December was high.

Official crime numbers will be released to the departments in a Maryland Uniform Crime Report this spring, police said.

"Crime has been flat for several years, overall, which is good because the city is growing pretty fast," Smith said.

Of the four homicides in Washington County in 2006, city police investigated three:

· The April 13 stabbing death of Leo Morris on Bethune Avenue

· The July 23 shooting death of Jackson Agustin Rodriguez, 22, at Washington Gardens Apartments

· The July 31 shooting death of Trisiviah Rodriguez, 20, on East Franklin Street.

The Rodriguezes are not related.

Maryland State Police's statewide homicide unit investigated the Jan. 26, 2006, shooting death of Roxbury Correctional Institution Officer Jeffery A. Wroten at Washington County Hospital.

Charges have been filed or Washington County grand jury indictments have been handed up in all of the 2006 homicides, police said.

Maryland State Police 1st Sgt. Jay Resh said troopers made nearly 400 drunken driving arrests in 2006, the second-highest arrest record in five years. He said troopers made more than 400 drunken driving arrests in 2003.

Mullendore said the department's ability to respond quickly to reported crimes has decreased with the increase in the number of calls.

"I think we've done a good job maintaining it. If we expect to keep up with it, we need more resources," he said.

He said the Sheriff's Department has had to prioritize calls when the number of deputies on the road is low.

Resh said population increases have contributed to more congested roads, but he said growth is not the only reason troopers made more drunken driving arrests in 2006. He said troopers are "just trying to do their job better."

Resh said drug arrests also were up in 2006, but he could not provide numbers.

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