SALISBURY — Touting a significant decrease in most serious offenses thus far in 2011, Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello was talking tough on crime this week during a roundtable discussion with Salisbury community leaders.
Salisbury Mayor James Ireton, Jr. this week shared the year-to-date crime statistics with leaders from the city’s various neighborhoods during the discussion. Ireton pointed out Part One crimes, which include murders, manslaughters, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts and arsons, were down about 24 percent over the same period of time in 2010.
“That’s a 24-percent decrease in our most serious crimes, and when you factor in the 8-percent decline from 2009 to last year, we’re down about 32 percent. Everybody knock on wood, but that’s a significant decrease and all the things were doing are starting to work,” he said.
All in all, the total number of Part One crimes is down from 1,138 over the first five months of the year in 2009, to 1,055 last year to 802 this year. Certain categories, such as murders and rapes, didn’t show a huge drop in percentage because the samples are much smaller. However, certain categories, such as burglaries, for example, dropped from 232 last year to 149 this year thus far, representing a decline of around 36 percent.
Maciarello extolled the virtues of the collaborative effort by multiple agencies involved in crime prevention and prosecution through the city’s Safe Streets program.
“We’re utilizing that to the maximum extent we can,” he said. “All of the components, from enforcement to investigation to intel gathering to prosecution are working as one and its starting to show the desired results.”
Ireton pointed out the State’s Attorney’s Office had gained two first-degree murder convictions in the last week with another pending. That case became the third murder conviction in the span of a week on Wednesday when a Salisbury man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for his role in a home invasion in which the resident was shot and killed.
Maciarello said he was not prepared to rest on his laurels with several more murder cases pending.
“We have a couple more murder cases going on right now,” he said. “Last September through December was a very violent time in our city and those cases are now making their way to trial. Our prosecutors are working very hard on these cases.”
Maciarello said the importance of the Division of Parole and Probation should not be overlooked in the city’s renewed battle against crime. He said the agency keeps close tabs on repeat offenders and is quick to violate the terms of their probations and paroles for the slightest infractions.
“They’re helping us take our most violent criminals off the streets,” he said. “Guys that are on parole or probation for the most serious of crimes, rapes and assaults, are getting put back in. If they so much as litter, Parole and Probation is violating them and sending them back in to do their time.”
Maciarello pointed to the recent arrest of a bar employee in a double shooting at a Salisbury nightclub to illustrate the improved partnerships.
“In that case, we saw collaboration between agencies we’ve never seen at this level before,” he said.
While often frowned upon, Maciarello said he is not afraid to make plea arrangements with defendants if it means getting key information.
“I know plea deals aren’t always popular, but I also know what stets and nolle prosses are for and sometimes the reasons aren’t always evident,” he said. “… it’s used a plea deal to get a wealth of information and intelligence about another case we’re working on.”