There were 97 slayings in Prince George’s in 2011, four more killings than in 2010. In the District, the year saw 108 homicides, down from 132 in 2010 and the lowest homicide total in the city since 1963.
“We share many of the same issues,” said D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. “Quite a few of our victims come from Prince George’s County.”
The police department’s 7th District east of the Anacostia River — neighborhoods including Barry Farm and Congress Heights — saw its annual homicide count drop 55 percent, with 24 fewer killings in 2011. Neighborhoods across the border in Prince George’s 4th District — including Hillcrest Heights and Oxon Hill-Glassmanor — saw their count more than double, up by 21 slayings.
Law enforcement officials said the trend along the Prince George’s border reflects problems that migrated with those who left the District for inside-the-Beltway county neighborhoods, including issues connected with poverty and long-simmering neighborhood disputes.
Some D.C. residents who still see frequent violence in their neighborhoods are weary, and say there’s not much to celebrate in the city’s declining homicide numbers.
“I’m slow to get too excited,” said the Rev. Donald Isaac, executive director of the East of the River Clergy, Police, Community Partnership. “As soon as you begin to celebrate, it can reverse so quickly.”
Prince George’s Police Chief Mark Magaw said crime has long run “back and forth” between the District and Prince George’s, and he has pushed this year for increased cooperation between the two police departments.
“It’s one big community now,” he said. “No longer do we have the luxury of saying, ‘We only have to worry up to Southern Avenue,’ ” one of the borders between the city and county.
Though killings in both the District and Prince George’s averaged about two per week during 2011, overall violent crime in the city fell by 10 percent and in the county by 12 percent.
But the city had a 6 percent jump in property crime, largely due to a growing problem with thieves grabbing smartphones, computer tablets and other electronic devices from people and cars. “Snatching electronics is the battle of the century,” Lanier said. “It’s the single biggest problem I have in term of numbers.”
Aiming for fewer than 100
Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said that the decline in homicides in the District is encouraging and that the city should work to try to get to fewer than 100 slayings in 2012.
“When people see crime going down like this, especially homicides, they are going to feel safer,” Gray said. “My sense is that people do feel safer. On the other hand, when you still see north of 100 homicides in the city, even though it’s a stark reduction, people are going to continue to be concerned about it. Some additional vigilance is going to serve you well, too.”