Montgomery County, Md., Executive Douglas M. Duncan, the gubernatorial Democratic primary rival to Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, says the mayor’s claims of overseeing the biggest drop in violent crime in the nation are “very suspect” and should be subjected to an independent audit, reports the Baltimore Sun. Duncan referred to questions raised by criminologists last week about an audit O’Malley commissioned of Baltimore’s crime statistics from 1999 and said the mayor has let his political ambitions get in the way of an honest assessment of his constituents’ safety.
O’Malley called Duncan’s attacks “desperate” and chided him for trying to advance in the polls by bashing Baltimore. The mayor’s staff said that violent crime in Montgomery County has increased 23 percent since 1999. Duncan’s camp countered that overall crime in the county is down since the executive took office 11 years ago. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention is spending $340,000 on a study of crime statistics reported to the FBI by Baltimore and four large counties. Duncan approves of the study but thinks it needs to be expanded statewide. He said he would welcome scrutiny of his county’s crime figures. “It’s time for an honest discussion about the crime problem in Baltimore,” he said. “No playing games with numbers. No putting partisan politics ahead of the needs of people.”