People consider many factors when looking to relocate and live in a certain area. Are the schools good? Is it accessible to highways and grocery stores? Is the crime rate high?
Scott Shellenberger’s job is to make sure potential homeowners answer no to that last question.
As Baltimore County State’s Attorney for the past six years, Shellenberger along with county law enforcement officials have been engaged in the use of common technologies residents wouldn’t think could be so helpful in solving crime.
Computers and cell phones are the best and most employed forms of technology police forces use to catch criminals. Internet history, hidden folders and emails along with call history, text messages and GPS systems have provided more than enough puzzle pieces to solve some of the county’s hard-hitting crimes, Shellenberger told attendees of GBC’s Baltimore County Regional Business Advisory Council meeting May 10.
Shellenberger walked attendees through the use of technology in establishing reasonable cause for arrest of Jason Gross in the murder of Rochelle Battle. Police were able to track both parties’ cell phones, capture Gross’ vehicle and the victim on surveillance videos, and use Battle’s call history at the time of her disappearance to pinpoint Gross as a homicide suspect.
But despite the police force’s exceptional ability to solve cases, Shellenberger prefers you didn’t need them in the first place.
Shellenberger identified the Internet as the newest, scariest place for crime, especially with children. Before Shellenberger came on board, the State’s Attorney’s office had only one sexual predator traveler case in five years (traveling sexual predators being defined as those who travel to the state of Maryland to engage with children).
Since 2008, the county solved 48 cases, including eight in 2011. Shellenberger has a full-time staff member dedicated to patrolling the Internet in search of sexual predators, posing as a 13-year-old girl and catching unsuspecting criminals before they can act.
Baltimore County has experienced at least an 80 percent clearance rate in all but one year of Shellenberger’s tenure and the lone year — 2009 — the amount of homicide cases solved was 78.1 percent.