Personal, property and society crimes were all down last year even as calls for service increased, according to the Gaithersburg Police Department (GPD) annual report released in mid-March. Last year, officers were sent out on 37,710 calls for service, which is an increase from 2017’s total of 34,469.
The Crimes Against Person category saw an overall 5.4 percent decrease from 2017, going from 596 total cases to 564. Overall assault offenses were down by 9.1 percent along with a 50 percent decrease in human trafficking. There were no homicides last year, which was down from one in 2017.
Total sex offenses did see a 21.9 percent overall increase with forcible rape (34.8 percent), fondling (37.5 percent) and forcible fondling (55.6 percent) going up with forcible sodomy (-12.5 percent) and sexual assault with an object (-11.1 percent) posting decreases.
With a dozen crimes along with subcategories, the Crimes Against Property section saw an overall 12.8 percent decrease, going from 2,089 reports to 1,821. The department saw decreases in burglary/breaking and entering (-22.1 percent), destruction/damage/vandalism of property (-27.3 percent), robbery (-16 percent) and total larceny/theft offenses (-11.8 percent).
Motor vehicle theft was up 32.1 percent from last year, going from 53 to 70 and total fraud offenses also increased from 234 to 245 (4.7 percent).
The Crimes Against Society category saw a 9.9 percent decrease, going from 3,435 to 3,094 with decreases in drug/ narcotic violations (-3.7 percent) and prostitution (-10 percent).
“The City of Gaithersburg is a city with a growing, diverse and vibrant population,” said GPD Chief Mark P. Sroka in the report. “We are fortunate to have an abundance of active and caring neighbors and community leaders who have worked hard with us to develop effective partnerships. As a result, we are and will continue to be a safe city.”
In 2017, the GPD switched from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program to National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to better capture more detailed crime data in the city.
GPD spokesman Officer Dan Lane noted the department has been able to lower crime because officers are proactively out in the community talking to more residents and attending events.
With several categories like robbery, prostitution and drug violations seeing a decline, Lane said officers are now investigating more when complaints come in. Officers will review a situation to see whether or not what has been reported is actually occurring, such as drug activity. While a resident may think that is occurring, officers are investigating to discover if it may have just been a suspicious situation.
Where there were increases such as motor vehicle theft and sex offenses, Lane said the department will be doing more patrols along with putting out additional educational information such as crime statistics on their website to alert residents to increasing numbers.
The 27-page annual report not only details the year’s crime statistics but also discusses training taken by the officers, events the department puts on every year such as National Night Out Against Crime, their prescription drug drop box and recognizing awards officers received throughout the year.
“The purpose (of the report) is to give people an idea of what is going on for the past year in the department,” Lane said. “Where we are at, where we plan on going, what are some things that popped up in the department that may be concerning. … What we always want is for everybody to see what we are doing and where we can improve.” Lane always wants residents to call in with concerns and/or information.
“We will be happy to come out to their community event,” he said. “We are happy to be a part of it. If they just want to have a meeting in their community and they want to know what is going on, we are always here. That’s our biggest thing. We want to be educational. We want to be transparent.”