Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, concerned about a recent spike in bloodshed, said he urged County Executive Jack B. Johnson yesterday to explore greater federal involvement and coordination in fighting crime in the county.
During a meeting in Johnson's office in Upper Marlboro, Ivey said he also asked Johnson (D) to appoint a group of police officers, prosecutors, researchers and probation officers to study all homicides that have occurred in Prince George's since Jan. 1, 2003, to try to detect patterns that could help law officers stem the violence.
Ivey described the discussion as productive, saying Johnson agreed to try to arrange a meeting with federal law enforcement officials to discuss the possibility of increasing their presence.
However, Johnson spokesman Jim Keary characterized the meeting differently, saying "no strategies were discussed or approved."
Keary said the county is working with federal agencies, including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"There was a 30-minute meeting today with two men talking about a common issue," Keary said yesterday. "A variety of crime-fighting initiatives have been discussed."
Ivey declined to respond late yesterday to Keary's comments.
The two ideas being pushed by Ivey are part of the "Boston strategy," an approach used in that city to greatly curtail violence. In 1990, 152 homicides occurred in Boston; by the end of that decade, slayings had plummeted to 31.
In recent months, Ivey has been advocating that Prince George's develop its own version of the Boston approach to stem an increasing tide of violence. "I think this proposal can help us do more to reduce homicides in Prince George's County," Ivey said.
As of yesterday, Prince George's has had 73 homicides this year, a 30 percent increase over the same period last year. The District, which typically has had significantly more homicides than Prince George's, had 70 homicides this year as of yesterday.
Barbara Hamm, a spokeswoman for county Police Chief Melvin C. High, said the chief has spoken with Ivey about the Boston plan. County police are using some aspects, such as identifying members of gangs or loosely knit groups that commit crimes.
Ivey outlined his vision for using the Boston program as a model for Prince George's in an opinion article published in The Washington Post on April 8. He was scheduled to appear for four local television news interviews this morning to push his plan.
Police and prosecutors could collect details of a gang's crimes, confront the leaders of those groups and tell them that if anyone in their group commits a crime, the entire group will be "swiftly and harshly prosecuted for these offenses," Ivey wrote.
Gang members also would be informed about social service agencies that could help them with jobs, substance abuse treatment and other counseling, he said in the article.
Keary said that some of those ideas are in effect in the county.
Ivey also called on church leaders to bring "moral guidance" to offenders "where they are," even if they are not church members, and for men in the community to serve as positive role models for young men by coaching a team or tutoring.