The Howard County Police Department released their 2019 Annual Report. This report has a lot of details in it…but the big thing most people looks for are the crime statistics. Here is that chart from the report:
Overall the numbers look good (maybe not number of homicides in 2019…but the other numbers look decent or inline or lower than previous years). The following was noted in the report:
CRIME DATA: Overall, violent and non-violent crime totals remained below the five-year average in 2019. The crime rate in Howard County, which is crimes per 100,000 residents, continues to be far below the statewide average. Homicides increased from one to eight, with one of those cases having occurred in 2018. It was classified as a homicide in 2019 and is carried in those numbers. The county remained stable or saw decreases in almost every other crime category, including burglary and theft, which continued to trend downward for the fourth consecutive year.
Here is the opening message from the Chief of Police Lisa Myers in the beginning of the annual report:
It has been a year of change in the Howard County Police Department. I was proud to be sworn in as the 12th Chief of Police, and even more proud to be the first woman and first African-American to serve in this role. It is amazing to step to the helm of an agency that is so well respected. My focus has been on building upon the existing foundation of excellence and in 2019, we made significant strides in that effort.
Throughout the year, we have been restructuring the department to make the operation and administration of the agency more efficient. This has included realigning patrol service areas, civilianizing positions that allow sworn officers to better serve in operational assignments, and expanding our use of technology. In 2020, even more changes are planned with the addition of a new operations support command and the move of the administrative components to a new office location. This change will free up space in our district stations, allowing key units within the Criminal Investigations Bureau to more effectively operate within a common location.
We launched a year-long drone field test at the end of 2019 upon the recommendation of a drone workgroup. The department purchased three drones with the help of the Howard County Police Foundation and is evaluating the technology to determine its usefulness, as well as transparency, training and privacy issues, throughout the coming year.
As Chief, I have put a significant focus on the important issue of employee wellness, both mental and physical. I appointed a wellness workgroup to review our current programs and make recommendations on ways to provide enhanced support services. On the job stress can have a significant impact on the well-being of our personnel. The workgroup has been tasked with finding innovative ways to address total employee wellness to ensure officers feel as confident taking care of themselves as they do using the tools around their belt.
The HCPD is looking ahead in 2020 to a partnership the Howard County Public School System to outfit all school buses with external cameras. The goal will be to address the issue of drivers who do not stop for buses, as required by law, and endanger students by speeding and creating other hazards.
We continue to evolve into an even more efficient and effective law enforcement agency to serve our residents and visitors. We appreciate the continued support of our community. Together, we will do great things in 2020!
I want to give a big thank you to our police department for all that they do for our community. I also appreciate the information in this report.