Frederick’s year-end major crimes total for 2014 was the lowest reported in the 24 years city police have recorded such data.
Major crimes dropped 13.2 percent overall across seven categories — homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults, rapes, burglaries, thefts and stolen autos — from 2013 to 2014, contributing to an overall 20 percent drop in crime over the last two years, said Lt. Clark Pennington, spokesman for the Frederick Police Department.
About 1,840 major crimes were reported to the department last year, the lowest annual number since the department began recording totals in 1991.
Pennington attributed much of the decline to the proactive approach to crime taken by officers and civilian staff, specifically the department’s two crime analysts.
“We’re more proactively deploying our patrol officers in areas that are identified through crime analysis as having a higher propensity for criminal activity, which is reducing crime,” he said.
Jennifer Burton, one of the department’s two crime analysts, said she is constantly in touch with patrol officers to point out crime trends that she sees crop up in neighborhoods.
In addition to looking at time frames, dates, locations and types of crimes, Burton said she looks at how crimes were committed — a criminal’s modus operandi — and tries to link emerging trends to previous crimes or, if possible, known offenders.
“I’ll let them know if there’s any known offenders who live in that area, as well as the time frame that they should be deploying off of,” Burton said. “So it’s not just saying, ‘You have to be on the west side looking for motor vehicle offenders.’ It’s more drilled down to, ‘Mondays and Tuesdays, be here between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.’”
The overall 12 percent dip in violent crimes — homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — was largely attributed to declines in reported robberies, which fell from 98 in 2013 to 82 last year, and reports of aggravated assaults, from 222 to 187, according to the data.
Reported homicides, including manslaughter, remained the same at one per year, while reported rape was the only category released by police that showed an increase, from seven in 2013 to 18 last year.
Pennington cautioned residents not to jump to the conclusion that the increase in rape reports was a cause for immediate concern.
“The majority of the rapes ... that are reported to us are not what people would typically think of as a rape: walking down the street, a stranger abducts somebody and rapes them,” he said. “That’s not what we’re seeing. … Stranger rapes are very rare.”
Most rapes, like homicides, are committed by acquaintances, sometimes even family members, of the victims, Pennington said. This is also a reason the majority of the 18 rapes reported in 2014, 15 as of Wednesday, were successfully closed, by arrest or otherwise, he said.
The number of rapes reported in 2014 was much closer to the annual average over the last five years, Pennington said.
“If you look at the five-year average, 15 to 20 (rapes) is about average,” he said.
Pennington was not alone in pointing out the closure rate of crimes reported in 2014. Capt. Patrick Grossman, Frederick’s acting police chief, mentioned the importance of the department’s ability to make arrests in not only rapes, but also in robberies and burglaries to keeping crime in check.
Of the 82 robberies reported to police in 2014, about half of them — 43 cases — had been closed, either with an arrest or otherwise, as of Wednesday, according to the city’s statistics. Of the 203 burglaries reported in 2014, 58 had been closed or cleared as of Wednesday, Pennington added.
“And I think that has a direct impact as well, because, again, it’s no secret that prolific offenders will keep offending if there’s no intervention,” Grossman said. “So through our closure rates, I think that has a direct contribution to the (declining) numbers, as well.”
Closure rates for aggravated assaults, thefts and stolen autos were not available Wednesday.