The number of murders in Baltimore County nearly doubled in 2019 when compared to the year before.
50 people were murdered last year according to a police department spokesman. That compares to 27 people killed in 2018 and 35 people murdered in 2016 and 2017.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said the police department is taking steps to make the county safer. For one thing, the department has been short-handed. It had 40 vacancies in the fall.
Olszewski said that is now down to two, and that recruiting and retaining officers will be a major focus.
“Keeping that vacancy rate closed," Olszewski said. "Investing in our officers, giving them the right technology and tools. We increased significantly pay.”
Olszewski also said the department has been policing with out-of-date strategies.
“And we want to create an environment where there’s more real time information coming in to our police departments, that they can deploy resources and act upon what’s happening in more real time versus waiting for data to be processed hours if not days later,” Olszewski said.
Olszewski said the jump in the murder rate is being fueled by drugs and domestic violence. Crime is also bleeding over from the city. With that said, Olszewski said Baltimore County remains a safe place to live.
"There's no single root cause of violence," Olszewski said "There's also not one single solution, which is why we're investing in a multi-pronged approach."
For example, Olszewski said they are looking for ways to expand the youth summer employment program. There also are two new PAL centers in this year's budget.
Olszewski also plans to ask the state legislature to pay for more regional crime fighting efforts when the General Assembly convenes next week.
"I take the responsibiltiy of keeping our communities safe very seriously," Olszewski said. "It's one of the most importanrt responsibilities I have as county executive."