County Executive Isiah Leggett on Tuesday touted double digit drops in serious crime and all crime during his seven years in office, four months out from his contested primary race.
Leggett, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger, State’s Attorney John McCarthy and Council President Craig Rice talked about how cooperation has led to a 33 percent drop in serious crime in 2013 compared to 2007, a 26 percent drop in all crimes in the same period and a 9 percent drop in total crime in 2013 compared to 2012.
One of three charts at an Executive Office Building press conference pointed out from 2000-2006, crime in the county increased by 8 percent and serious crimes dropped by only 4 percent. One of Leggett’s opponents in the June primary is former County Executive Doug Duncan, who ran the county from 1994-2006.
Leggett, Rice, McCarthy and Manger offered praise to Councilmember Phil Andrews, who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee. But Andrews, who is also taking on Leggett in the primary, did not attend the press conference.
“When I was first elected to county executive, I identified safer streets as one of my top priorities,” Leggett said. “Today, I am pleased to announce our progress, that is, by the numbers over the last seven years since I’ve been county executive — none of which, you’ll hear, happened by accident.”
Leggett said he came to office and had to deal with “unsustainable budgets” before the Great Recession hit, a criticism of Duncan that Duncan has said isn’t accurate.
“Despite these challenges, we made public safety a priority,” Leggett said.
The declines significantly outdid crime decreases nationally. According to the FBI, violent crime dropped 14 percent nationally from 2007 to 2012. Total crime was down 9.6 percent.
Part I crimes, or serious offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary and auto theft, dropped from 25,269 crimes to 17,198 from 2007 to 2013. Part II crimes, less serious offenses including minor assaults, arson, forgery and vandalism, dropped from 45,862 crimes to 35,705 over the same period.
Manger attributed the trend to putting more officers in high-crime areas such as Montgomery Village and parts of Silver Spring, tailoring police strategies to those areas and cooperation with the community.
“We enjoy great public support in Montgomery County,” Manger said. “We’re not out there doing it by ourselves. There’s some communities in this country, where witnesses and victims of crime won’t come to court and testify. We don’t have that problem here. People have confidence in the police department. People have confidence in the State’s Attorney’s office and they show up to help us fight crime.”
In 2013, there were nine homicides in the county, 130 rapes, 747 robberies, 780 aggravated assaults, 2,587 burglaries, 12,085 larcenies and 861 auto thefts. All of those are down compared to 2012 except for rape, which Manger attributed to new crime reporting standards that include the reporting of male victims and more cooperation with the county’s Family Justice Center, which police believe may have given more victims the confidence to report rapes.
Burglaries dropped by only 0.6 percent, something police have attributed to a large spike of office burglaries in Bethesda and White Flint carried out by one now-convicted burglar.
Non-commercial robberies and burglaries did drop in 2013, accounting for the overall decline.