Daily "Recent Prince George's County News" updates were suspended in early March 2016. They were compiled primarily from retweets of news headlines. Those retweets continue, but in unformatted and unarchived form at PG-Politics-Briefs. To follow such headlines on a current basis, follow @pgpolitics on Twitter.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gory Prince George's News

(Posted 2 Feb 2006)
In some cities, newspapers have online homicide maps; not here
  • Using the Google Maps API to chronicle homicides.
  • Tech savvy papers like the Toronto Star, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and the Star-Ledger are employing the Google Maps API in their online depiction of homicides and murders within their reading areas. This is a great way to visually show the concentration and locations of these incidents. The mapping user interface is also becoming more common for people which is removing some of the learning curve for a visitor. It's also easier and more cost effective for online editions of news organizations to employ this technology rather than alternatives that offer no user interactivity with the map. Here they are:
Citizens meet to remember the victims; county exec, chief of police don't
  • Families pay tribute to homicide victims; Prince George’s 173 victims from 2005 honored during dedication.
  • Leaning against a biting January wind, William Ballard Jr. and dozens of other family members touched by violence came together for the dedication of the ‘‘Remember Memorial” Tuesday night, honoring last year’s 173 homicide victims.

    About 150 mourners gathered on the greenery in front of Riverdale Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro for the dedication ceremony. They clutched folded obituaries, old pictures and T-shirts emblazoned with the images of their sons, daughters, mothers and friends, who were among Prince George’s County’s record number of homicides in 2005.
    [Full story].
  • The politics of public safety.
  • Almost two weeks ago, a town hall meeting was held to discuss crime in Prince George’s County. With a 13 percent increase in violent crimes overall and a record 173 murders last year, there was plenty for residents to discuss. The absence of Police Chief Melvin C. High and County Executive Jack B. Johnson only added fuel to the fire.

    Again, during a memorial held Tuesday to recognize those killed in Prince George’s last year, High and Johnson failed to attend. A press release was sent out the day before the event stating Johnson would hold a forum to discuss the budget at the same time as the memorial.

    County residents were rightfully outraged. The absence of the police chief and county executive while sending representatives to such important events is akin to having a family meeting without the presence of the parents – the ones most likely to make a difference and provide the support sought by those in need.
    [. . .]
    Room for improvement

    Since The Star’s Jan. 19 story, ‘‘Our public has the right to know,” which highlighted incorrect information and inconsistent e-mailings of homicide press releases, the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Office of Communications is improving.

    Although e-mail kinks are still being worked out, all homicides this year have been loaded onto the county’s Web site in a timely manner with consistent information.

    However, The Star found that homicides are not being listed in crime blotters. In other words, when you look through the list of crimes provided by the police department to see what has occurred in your neighborhood, murders are not being included.

    Police officials suggest residents call district stations where the crime occurred if they want more information.

    This isn’t good enough. People read the blotter with the understanding that it is a listing of what crimes were reported in their areas. And it should be just that – a listing of all crimes..
Blaming apartment owners; promises, promises, promises
  • Pr. George's Bill Would Require Apartment Security.
    • Post, 2 Feb 2006 (by Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post Staff Writer).
    Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson said yesterday that he will create legislation within the days for the County Council requiring apartment complex owners to submit security plans that he said would help improve the safety of residents.
    [. . .]
    Johnson's announcement comes a year after he targeted 22 apartment complexes in the county that accounted for more than 19,000 calls seeking police help in 2004, or one of every 20 calls to 911 in Prince George's. In January 2005, Johnson vowed to shut down such troubled complexes if owners didn't make them safer.

    Yesterday, he declared progress, saying that 17 of those complexes had fewer calls for police service last year. In total, the 22 complexes had 870 fewer calls last year, a decrease of less than 5 percent from 2004.
    [. . .]
    Data show that calls for police assistance generally include hang-ups, complaints about loud music and reports of robberies and violent crimes.

    County officials yesterday did not provide details on what types of calls were reduced at the 22 complexes.

    Rushern Baker, who has announced his intent to run for county executive against Johnson this year, said the reduction is minuscule for a county that had record homicide levels last year and a rise of 11 percent in overall violent crime, with robberies, assaults and carjackings up from 2004.

    "As a resident, it doesn't make me feel any safer," Baker said.
    [. . .]
    Lesa Hoover, an apartment industry representative, expressed surprise yesterday at the proposed legislation, saying it was the first she had heard about it.

    "Mr. Johnson has not been open with the industry representatives regarding this plan," said Hoover . . .
    [Full story].
  • County begins tearing down the Joel Apartments; Project to make way for new, upscale condos.
  • By this time next year, 122 new families are expected to live in upscale condominiums at what used to be one of Prince George’s County’s most notorious apartment complexes.
    [. . .]
    Of the 22 apartment complexes County Executive Jack B. Johnson targeted on a list in March 2005 to improve service or face possible condemnation, the Joel Apartments received the most calls for police service per unit. Nothing could be done to improve residents’ safety because of the antiquated design, according to Johnson’s office.
    [Full story (mentions other areas being rehabilitated)].
  • Johnson says safety comes first, praises police actions.
  • Johnson: Public safety a priority in ’07 budget; Executive predicts increase of $181M over previous year .
  • Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson pledged to highlight public safety going into fiscal 2007 budget talks as he announced a projected total budget increase of $181 million over the previous year.
    [. . .]
    Coming off a record year for homicides, Johnson cited downward trends in 2006, and announced he would drop ‘‘huge amounts of money” on public safety in the upcoming budget.
    [. . .]
    And Accokeek resident Judith Allen-Leventhal queried Johnson regarding increased police protection in her area.

    ‘‘We need additional police service in south county desperately,” she said.

    Johnson earlier stated his ultimate goal would be to flesh out the police department to about 1,800 officers.

    The forum was attended by county police chief Melvin High.

    ‘‘One thousand, eight hundred officers is about the right number,” Johnson said, ‘‘and we will be moving toward that direction.”

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