Baltimore County announces new data center, targeted policing to combat crime

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Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt, center, speaks as Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., second from right, and council members Israel “Izzy” Patoka, left, and Julian E. Jones Jr., right, look on. Credit: Baltimore County Police Department.

After seeing an 85 percent increase in homicides last year, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and Police Chief Melissa Hyatt today announced a new Real Time Crime Center and an increase in discretionary spending for police to combat violent crime.

Olszewski said the new public safety plan is a “deliberate and decisive response” to the 50 homicides in the county last year, a total that surpassed the previous high of 43 killings in 1992, seven years after the FBI began collecting local data on violent crime.

“We refuse to normalize violence in our communities,” he said.

Hyatt said the new data center will be staffed with civilian crime analysts and police officers monitoring trends in areas that experience the highest amount of crime.

“Focused crime prevention is about utilizing reliable data to drive how we deploy resources,” she said. “Utilizing this data more effectively will improve our ability to form specific strategies to prevent violence.”

The county will also increase funds so that more personnel can be deployed in response to the trends the analysts and officers are seeing.

Additional initiatives in the public safety plan include bolstering efforts to recruit and retain officers, establishing an Office of Public Safety, increasing coordination with the Baltimore Police Department and working to expand successful programs such as the Warrant Apprehension Task Force and the Regional Auto Theft Task Force.

Sean Naron, a spokesperson for Olszewski’s office, said the county is still pricing out the final costs for the plan and will seek funding to implement it during the legislative session in Annapolis and from public and private resources.

Hyatt, who was sworn in to lead Baltimore County Police Department last summer, said today’s announcement dovetails with other innovations she has brought to the department, such as expanding area sectors from two to three and creating the position of Night Commander.

The chief also said the plan unveiled today is as much about implementing proven practices in the department as it is responding to crime trends.

“Innovating our crime-fighting capabilities is a significant investment, and is a necessary investment to continue to keep Baltimore County as safe as possible,” she said.

Brandon Weigel

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