Crime has dropped for the fourth straight year in Prince George’s County, progress that officials say shows that the county’s efforts to improve safety is sustainable.
County leaders and outgoing Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley touted the improved crime statistics in Prince George’s at a press conference Tuesday.
County Executive Rushern L. Baker III credited O’Malley’s strong support for much of the progress the county has made in cutting crime. Baker also pointed to the county’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative.
“If you give families the support and wrap-around services, a lot of this goes away,” Baker said of the initiative, which is designed to improve safety by providing government and social services to six key communities in tandem with focused policing.
County police Chief Mark A. Magaw said that “holistic” approach the government has taken to improve safety has made it easier for law enforcement to push crime down.
Homicides have dropped about 40 percent over the last four years, and violent crime has fallen 36 percent, Magaw said.
The police department estimates there were 2,389 fewer victims of crime in 2014 compared to 2013, Magaw said.
The chief noted that “crime involving family members plagued us this year,” including the deaths of seven children younger than 3. “This is what drives us every hour of every day, to make sure we stop this kind of violence,” Magaw said.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said the annual reductions in crime “are not by accident.” The results reflect partnerships and strategic coordination between police, the county, the sheriff’s office, her office and the community, she said.
“Prince George’s is so much more than crime, and I want the whole world to understand that, as well,” Alsobrooks said. “We have proved that we can manage well the resources we’ve been given.”
Sheriff Melvin High echoed Alsobrooks’s remarks. “It really is about partnership that has made us successful,” High said. “The work we do is about people every day and all the time.”
County residents said they’ve noticed the results of decreased crime. Jacoline Keys, a Glassmanor resident, said there was a time when her grandchildren didn’t want to visit her because police were always in her neighborhood and “there was never a day you couldn't find someone dead on the sidewalk.” But now “they’re doing a great job,” Keys said of police and the county.
Keys’s neighborhood is one of the Transforming Neighborhood Initiative communities. According to county data, violent crime rates have fallen in most of the communities under the initiative from 2013 to 2014: Langley Park (-15.3 percent), Riverdale (-10.1 percent), Kentland-Palmer Park (-27.6 percent) and Glassmanor (-29.1 percent).
Two communities in the program saw rates of violent crime increase, with the county recording a 1 percent increase in Capitol Heights-Forestville and a 5.2 percent increase in Hillcrest Heights.
Tuesday’s press conference in Prince George’s was one of O’Malley’s last public appearances as Maryland’s governor. Before he left, he encouraged county officials to “keep doing what you’re doing.”
“You can do this every four years,” O’Malley said. “You can do this every day. So Prince George’s, keep moving forward.”