Prince George’s sees another record crime drop in 2013 -- Gazette.Net


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Crime is down again in Prince George’s County, with overall crime decreasing about 12 percent compared to 2012 and homicides dipping to their lowest numbers since the mid 1980s.

“Even adults need a timeout,” said community advocate Belinda Queen-Howard of Capitol Hills. “In Prince George’s County we don’t have a problem incarcerating someone for their timeout.”

Queen-Howard spoke at a press conference held today by county officials, where they announced violent crimes were down about 14 percent and property crime was down about 12 percent. Homicides were down about 12 percent, the lowest they have been since 1986, according to police data.

Conference speakers, which included Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), said partnerships between the community, county and state departments were key in continuing the county’s decrease in crime, which has been trending downward since 2010.

“We are moving Prince George’s County forward,” Baker said. “This is a great day, but we will not rest.”

One of the partnerships Baker emphasized was the county’s Transforming Neighborhood Initiatives program, which puts a special focus on communities with low employment and high poverty, crime rates and foreclosure rates, both indicators of areas with high criminal activity.

TNI was started in April 2012 and targets the East Riverdale/Bladensburg, Glassmanor/Oxon Hill, Hillcrest Heights/Marlow Heights, Langley Park, Kentland/Palmer Park and Suitland/Coral Hills areas.

Sharing information on these neighborhoods with police helps them understand what is needed in those areas and how to respond appropriately, Baker said.

“Here we are, 18 months later, and we have made a difference,” Baker said.

County Police Chief Mark Magaw said another change that has reduced crime was launching the police department’s regional investigation division. This new division, launched in January 2013, created a centralized chain of command that oversees investigations divisions across the county, Magaw said.

One of the crime trends Prince George’s police plan to focus on in 2014 is domestic violence, which was responsible for 2014’s first two homicides on Jan. 1, Magaw said.

The department’s new domestic violence unit will put an emphasis on tracking that crime and working with the community to incarcerate repeat offenders and protect men and women at risk of home-based violence, Magaw said.

“I’m looking forward to that group reducing domestic violence,” Magaw said. “Our work is not over.”

Queen-Howard said residents need to be involved in crime reduction just like the police. Instead of chasing down and arresting criminals, Queen-Howard said residents need to report suspicious behavior and protect their belongings from crimes of opportunity, such as putting valuables out of sight in their vehicles. If the people stay involved, the county will continue to see decreases in crime, Queen-Howard said.

“Police can’t be everywhere, but citizens are all around,” Queen-Howard said. “[Active citizens] are the reason why crime is reduced.”

ccook@gazette.net