The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

State’s attorney launches community-focused carjacking task force in Prince George’s

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy announces a new carjacking task force during a news conference May 20 at the county courthouse in Upper Marlboro.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy announces a new carjacking task force during a news conference May 20 at the county courthouse in Upper Marlboro. (Katie Mettler/The Washington Post)

The Prince George’s County state’s attorney’s office has launched a carjacking task force that will work with local lawmakers, school personnel and community organizations on prevention and public awareness of the rising crime — especially among the region’s young people.

Carjacking crimes have spiked over the past year and a half locally and nationally, as the pandemic brought economic hardship upon many Americans and virtual learning left children and teenagers with more free time.

The goal of this new task force, announced Thursday by top prosecutor Aisha Braveboy, is to coordinate the crime-fighting efforts of law enforcement with the prevention work of community organizers, faith leaders, educators, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

“We know that we can’t simply arrest and prosecute our way out of this problem,” Braveboy said at a news conference outside the courthouse in Upper Marlboro.

The announcement of the county task force came the day after federal prosecutors in Maryland announced they were partnering with local state’s attorneys, including Braveboy, to prosecute carjackings in the region.

In Prince George’s, the rate of carjackings sharply increased from 170 incidents in 2019 to 263 in 2020. So far this year, law enforcement officials have investigated 95 carjackings.

Girl, 15, pleads guilty to murder in fatal carjacking of Uber Eats driver in D.C.

The rate also has spiked among juvenile offenders. There were 21 juveniles prosecuted for carjackings in 2019, a figure that nearly doubled in 2020 to 41. In 2021, the state’s attorney’s office has encountered 20 juveniles involved in carjackings.

Many of the carjackings in Prince George’s — and violent crime more broadly — spill over into other jurisdictions in the area, including Montgomery County and the District. Because of that, Braveboy said her office has entered into a memorandum of understanding with officials in D.C. to share information about the young people facing court supervision in both places — ensuring they are connected to resources.

Braveboy said her office also has five pending agreements with local organizations who have promised outreach, mentorship and treatment to youth offenders. A faith-based work group has agreed to open its churches for the task force’s initiatives.

The task force will meet monthly, Braveboy said, and begin to roll out community cookouts, neighborhood walks and focused mentoring for young people and their parents. Community organizers pledged to create programming and build relationships in neighborhoods affected by gun violence.

“The fight we are fighting is not something we can do without the community backing us up,” said Kojo Boampong, co-founder of the Black Rhythm Coalition. “We are losing our babies, we are losing our youth.”

He will be leading a gun violence prevention march through the Capitol Heights neighborhood Saturday morning. It will start at Seat Pleasant Elementary School at 10:30. DJ EZ Street from WHUR 96.3, who was also at the task force announcement, will co-host a Gun Prevention Awareness Month “community call-to-action rally” with the state’s attorney on June 1.

“We want to meet people where they are,” Braveboy said.

U.S. attorney partnering with D.C., Maryland county officials to prosecute carjackings

Puzzling spike in auto thefts, many of them violent, worries D.C.-area police

Teens drive brutal spike in carjackings with covid limiting school and supervision