Maryland’s crime rate dropped 6.3 percent last year, reaching a new low in the state’s per-capita incidence of violent and property offenses and mirroring a national trend, the Baltimore Sun reports. The figures are the lowest since modern crime tracking began in 1975. That continues a pattern of the state notching record lows for most of the past 14 years, though as crime rates dropped more sharply in other states, Maryland has remained one of the most violent.
The numbers run counter to the public’s perception about crime and safety and surprise some experts who expected the rates to rise amid a recession — a pattern that’s been borne out in previous economic downturns. Some experts sre hard pressed to pinpoint an explanation for the declines. “This economic downturn has not been associated with a crime increase,” said Gary LaFree, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, noting that this is the first time there’s been a disconnect since the Depression. “No one knows for sure why.” Local officials believe a combination of technological advances and information-sharing — within departments and across jurisdictional lines — are helping to deter crime. “It’s about working smarter,” said Maj. Thomas Wilson, patrol commander for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, which implemented the Comstat police data analysis technology two years ago. “Here and across the nation, the resources are what they are. But we’re using data to drive what we do, to do a better job and put resources in the right place at the right time.”