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Maryland Mirrors Nation’s Continuing Crime Decline

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BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland’s drop in violent crime in 2010 mirrors a nationwide 6 percent decrease noted by the FBI, according to an annual crime statistics report released on Monday.

Maryland’s 4.9 percent decline in property crime surpassed the nation’s 2.7 percent drop and the data show the state’s homicides dropped 3.2 percent and robberies and motor vehicle deaths fell about 8 percent in 2010.

However, rapes increased 6.2 percent in Maryland, bucking the 5 percent drop nationwide in 2010. The state’s total was influenced by a jump in Baltimore, where police changed the way rapes were classified.

State officials credit a growth in technology and information sharing for Maryland’s overall decline.

“I think that there’s been some breakthroughs with technology that has enabled law enforcement to get their arms around those large property crime categories,” said Kristen Mahoney, executive director of Maryland’s Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. “Things like license plate reader technology can have a tremendous impact on stolen vehicles. Things like (closed circuit television) can have a tremendous impact on street crime.”

Many expect crime to increase with high unemployment, but that theory has been questioned over the years. While local governments have struggled to pay for crime fighting in recent years, the federal government has stepped in to help with stimulus and other funds, Mahoney said.

Maryland focused its funding from the federal government, up to $26 million in one year, on warrants, reducing DNA evidence backlogs, closed-circuit television and other technology, she said.

“Everyone talks about less money in municipal budgets,” she said. “But the federal government has been supportive in these last four years with providing resources to the criminal justice system.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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