Officials: Elkton’s crime rate dropped in 2015
— 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
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.