Frederick County residents are among the safest in the United States, with a per capita crime rate less than half the nationwide average, according to data released last week by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and the Frederick Barrack of the Maryland State Police.
The combined 2012 figures indicate 13.54 serious or Part 1 offenses were committed for every 1,000 persons living in the county compared to the 2011 national average of 32.95 per 1,000, the most recent data available, according to the annual report released on April 18.
Part 1 crimes required to be reported to the FBI annually include aggravated assault, burglary, homicide, rape, robbery, stolen autos and theft.
“That’s a very significant message [about safety],” Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins (R) said. “... When you look at all the categories, we ought to be pleased to be living here in Frederick County.”
Both the sheriff’s office and state police Frederick barrack reported drops in overall county crime in 2012, while Frederick city experienced a slight uptick over the same period.
Jenkins attributed some of the decline to the county’s targeted approach to crime solving.
“When we see a trend develop or a series of crimes develop, we get on top of it pretty quickly,” Jenkins said. “We deploy as much law enforcement as we can to that area.”
The combined 2012 figures show an overall 7 percent reduction in county crime compared to 2011, with the sheriff’s office reporting a 10 percent decrease in serious crimes and state police a 3 percent drop.
Jenkins said the county collaborates with state police, frequently sharing information about trends and individual crimes. Although each agency is autonomous, both have jurisdiction in the county.
State police also work with the Frederick Police Department, as well as other local municipalities, including providing resident troopers in Mount Airy and Walkersville.
Lt. Todd May, the commander of the Frederick Barrack, did not return calls for comment. But in a statement included with the report, May said the department makes a focused effort on reducing crime at targeted times and areas.
“Our mission is to aggressively enforce criminal laws, and conduct enforcement and investigative activities during times and in locations where our efforts will have the greatest deterrent effect on criminal activity,” he said.
The most significant drop in the combined statistics was in motor vehicle theft, which fell to 72 from 111 in 2011, a drop of 35 percent, the report said.
Other changes included a 20 percent decline in aggravated assault, down to 184 from 231, and 4 percent drops in burglary and theft, with 397 burglaries, down from 412, and 1,467 thefts, down from 1,527, the report said.
Jenkins said he was happy to see the decrease in almost every category except rape, which had 18 cases, up 64 percent from the 11 in 2011.
“The majority [of rape cases], if not all, are victim specific, where the victim has a relationship with the attacker,” he said. “They are not violent, random street attacks.”
The report comes as the sheriff’s office will see an increase of three deputies in the proposed 2013 county budget, bringing the force to 175 officers.
Meanwhile, the city police department is authorized for 141 officers. The proposed budget for 2013 includes a $100,000 allotment to help keep the force at that number by partially funding cadets before expected retirements.
Jenkins said the uptick in crime in the city doesn’t surprise him because offenders sometimes move across the county.
“Bad guys don’t recognize jurisdictional boundaries,” he said. “They’re going to commit their crimes whenever they have the opportunity. Maybe one year they’re down in the county, up in the city, and maybe the next year they’re down in the city but up in the city.”
The city saw an 8.7 percent rise in serious crimes over the same period. In total, there were 2,280 crimes committed in Part 1 categories in 2012, compared to 2,098 in 2011.
That is a rate of about 34.45 crimes per 1,000 residents, based on 2011 census estimates, the most recent figures available.