Of­fi­cials: Elkton’s crime rate dropped in 2015

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— The crime rate in town dropped 3.6 per­cent last year com­pared to the av­er­age crime rate for the pre­vi­ous five years, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est agency sta­tis­tics.

“We al­ways com­pare our crime rate to the pre­vi­ous five years be­cause it gives a truer pic­ture of trends. It gives a much better dy­namic,” ex­plained Capt. Joseph Zurolo, an EPD spokesman.

Specif­i­cally, the method is used to avoid the mis­per­cep­tions that fig­ures from a sin­gle anom­aly year can cre­ate, Zurolo noted, com­ment­ing, “You could have a year where the crime rate is very high or one where it’s very low. Com­par­ing the lat­est year to the five-year av­er­age is a more ac­cu­rate read­ing.”

As for num­bers re­lat­ing to the pre­vi­ous two years, 2015’s crime rate was down 0.5 per­cent from 2014’s crime rate, he re­ported.

More­over, fig­ures from the com­par­i­son range of

ELKTON

2010 through 2014 in­di­cate that the crime rate for 2013 was the only year that the crime rate was lower than that recorded in 2015.

The 2015 sta­tis­tics also in­di­cate that, con­trary to what Zurolo be­lieves is a pop­u­lar be­lief, most of the calls for ser­vice han­dled by EPD pa­trol of­fi­cers were not even re­lated to crime.

There were 23,392 calls for ser­vice han­dled by the agency in 2015 and, of those, 3,039 fell into the crime cat­e­gory, Zurolo said. That 3,039 trans­lates to 13 per­cent of the calls han­dled last year.

More­over, of those 3,039 crime-re­lated calls for ser­vice, 1,028 in­volved petty thefts, which rep­re­sent 34 per­cent of the to­tal crimere­lated calls for ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to the fig­ures.

“Most of our calls for ser­vice are for things like keys locked a ve­hi­cle, bark­ing dogs, traf­fic accidents, noise complaints. When you drill down into the num­bers, of the crimes we do han­dle, 34 per­cent are petty thefts, like re­tail sho­plift­ing,” Zuro- lo com­mented.

Calls re­lat­ing to what is con­sid­ered “vi­o­lent crimes,” which in­cludes rape, mur­der and ag­gra­vated as­saults (non-fa­tal shoot­ings, stab­bings and beat­ings are on the list), made up less than 0.5 per­cent of all calls for ser­vice in 2015.

That 0.5 per­cent trans­lates to 110 vi­o­lent crimes in 2015, Zurolo said, ex­plain­ing that “ag­gra­vated as­sault” ap­plies when an as­sault causes “se­ri­ously bod­ily in­jury” to the victim or vic­tims and, for the most part, it in­volves an at­tack to some de­gree.

Based on those sta­tis­tics, a vi­o­lent crime oc­curred in Elkton an av­er­age of ap­prox­i­mately two times a week in 2015.

Zurolo opined that the vi­o­lent crime-re­lated fig­ure is rel­a­tively low, in re­la­tion to the 3,039 over­all crimere­lated calls for ser­vice in 2015, and that the num­ber may sur­prise peo­ple.

“The vi­o­lent crimes grab the head­lines. Those stories stick with peo­ple much longer, and they leave them with a neg­a­tive per­cep­tion. Peo­ple think there are vi­o­lent crimes all the time, and that is sim­ply not true,” Zurolo said.

Along those lines, the 2015 crime sta­tis­tics in­di­cate that EPD of­fi­cers and de­tec­tives han­dled four mur­ders — they were linked to three sep­a­rate in­ci­dents that led to three in­di­vid­ual crim­i­nal court cases — and all of them re­sulted in front­page Ce­cil Whig stories about those homi­cides. As of Wed­nes­day, ar­rests had been made in two of the three 2015 mur­der cases.

The re­main­ing 36 per­cent of the 3,039 crime-re­lated calls for ser­vice in 2015 — which trans­lates to 1,094 calls — fall into the cat­e­gory of Part 2 Crimes, which in­cludes drug of­fenses, bur­glar­ies, van­dal­ism, pros­ti­tu­tion, fraud, tres­pass­ing and sim­i­lar vi­o­la­tions, he said.

It also in­cludes “sim­ple as­sault,” which typ­i­cally ap­plies when there is “mu­tual com­bat” re­sult­ing in mi­nor or no in­juries, Zurolo added.

As for those Part 2 Crimes, they were down 7.4 per­cent in 2015 com­pared to the av­er­age dur­ing the pre­vi­ous five years, ac­cord­ing to EPD records.

In broader terms, the over­all 23,392 calls for ser­vice for EPD of­fi­cers in 2015 re­flect a sig­nif­i­cant drop from the 2014 to­tal of 28,641, ac­cord­ing to the stats. Zurolo be­lieves that some proac­tive ini­tia­tives adopted last year played a role in 2015 hav­ing 5,249 fewer calls for ser­vice than the pre­vi­ous year.

One in­volves “sat­u­ra­tion pa­trols” in Elkton com­mu­ni­ties deemed to be “hotspots” for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, with the list in­clud­ing the Hollingsworth Manor and Friend­ship Heights neigh­bor­hoods, as well as a sec­tion of West Main Street.

EPD ini­ti­ated Area Sat­u­ra­tion Pa­trol (ASP) in late March, within days af­ter Jonathan Luis “Rico” De­je­sus, then 22, al­legedly shot and killed Mo­tar­ranche Car­rasco-Perez, 27, with a stolen .40-cal­iber semi- au­to­matic hand­gun in Hollingsworth Manor, police re­ported.

Cap­tured shortly af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing and charged with first-de­gree mur­der and sev­eral other of­fenses, De­je­sus re­mains in cus­tody await­ing trial.

Main­tain­ing a high police pro­file in those trou­bled ar­eas has al­lowed res­i­dents to turn to nearby of­fi­cers be­fore a sit­u­a­tion turns into a con­flict and be­fore a con­flict turns into a call for ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to Zurolo.

“The extra of­fi­cers in those ar­eas pre­vent things from happening. They also get to know some of the res­i­dents in those ar­eas, so there is an as­pect of pub­lic re­la­tions and res­i­dents co­op­er­ate with them,” he said. “It’s like the police and res­i­dents are work­ing to­gether.”

The crime data recorded by EPD each year is sub­mit­ted to the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, which in­cludes those sta­tis­tics in its an­nual na­tional Uni­form Crime Re­ports, ac­cord­ing to Zurolo.

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