Montgomery Co. police release 2019 statistics on crime, bias, use of force incidents

Montgomery County Police have released their annual reports from 2019 after a delay they said was due to the coronavirus pandemic and department retirements.

Increases were seen in fatal crashes, overdoses and crimes against property in Montgomery County. Additionally, there was a significant increase in bias incidents in 2019. And three districts in the county saw an increase in use of force by officers in response to resistance.

The reports evaluate crime and safety, use of force and bias incidents in Montgomery County, comparing the totals from the previous years.

Crime and safety

The report on crime and safety shows increases in property crimes, fatal crashes and overdoses. Crimes against property were up a total of 2.3%, according to statistics released by the Montgomery County Police Department.

The greatest increases were among fraud and larceny, including purse snatching, shoplifting and motor vehicle theft. Wheaton, Rockville and Gaithersburg saw the most of those incidents for the year.

The number of auto thefts increased nearly 9% in 2019, while thefts of vehicle parts and accessories from vehicles increased 11.3%. The report found that many of the auto thefts occurred in the same area as the reported thefts from autos, with police saying that it may be attributed to vehicle owners leaving vehicle keys and/or keeping the spare keys in the vehicle.

There was also an increase in nonfatal shootings in 2019 with 99 incidents, compared to 93 in 2018 and 79 in 2017.

Crimes against persons, including assaults, homicides, human trafficking, kidnapping and sex offenses were down 3%. In 2019 there were 15 homicides, which is down from 20 in 2018. Crimes against society including drug offenses, gambling, pornography, prostitution and weapon violations were down more than 20%.

The number of overdoses increased 7.3% in 2019. While nonfatal overdoses declined 5% from 2018, fatal overdoses increased 41%.

When it comes to the roads, the Montgomery County Collision Reconstruction Unit responded to 32 fatal collisions resulting in 33 total deaths in 2019, which is a 14.3% increase from 2018.

Use of force

Three Montgomery County districts saw an increase in use of force by officers in 2019 according to the annual report.

Silver Spring, Wheaton and Gaithersburg saw increases in the number of reported police use-of-force incidents in response to resistance from 2018, while Rockville and Germantown reported decreases. Bethesda’s rate remained the same.

In 2019, use-of-force incidents in response to resistance reported in Silver Spring and Wheaton comprised more than half of the use-of-force incidents reported, which was also the case in 2018. Silver spring saw 178 compared to 160 in 2018 and Wheaton saw 138 compared to 134 in 2018.

Making arrests, serving emergency evaluation petitions and defending against assaults made up 92.9% of the incidents where some type of force in response to resistance was deemed necessary. Calls for service involving assaults, narcotics and DUI offenses, mental illness and disorderly conduct accounted for 71.1% of all incidents.

The type of force most commonly used by officers was with their hands, which was used in 79.4% of cases.

In 2019, there were 28 use-of-force-related cases opened involving 58 allegations received from external and internal sources reviewed by the MCPD Internal Affairs Division, compared to 20 cases and 34 allegations received in 2018.

There were a total of 553 use of force incidents in 2019 compared to 542 in 2018, according to the report.

Bias incidents

Montgomery County reports a major increase in bias incidents, reporting a trend of younger offenders and victims.

In 2019, Montgomery County police saw 114 reported bias incidents — an increase of 22.6% from 2018. This is the second highest number of bias-related incidents reported to the MCPD since internal reporting processes changed in 2015, and only 7% less than 2017 when 123 incidents were reported.

And they’re seeing a trend of younger offenders. In 2019, the category for offenders under the age of 18 increased 38%, despite no school-reported bias incidents during the month of October. Also, victims under the age of 35 made up 48.4% of the individual victims identified. On average, the department records 9.5 bias incidents per month.

About 52% percent of the incidents fall into the category of vandalism or graffiti. The most frequent type continues to be the swastika and other anti-Semitic phrases/statements, particularly in schools, followed by bias towards a race.

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