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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Homicides up, but Chief High Says Crime Still Trending Down First Quarter

(Updated 25 Apr 2007; Homicide summary & statistics)

Although homicides are up, the county's overall crime picture seems to be improving.

Press reports:
Homicide Rate Soars In Year's First Quarter
Spike Comes as Other Crimes Decrease
Post, 25 Apr 2007
(Rondeaux) [Full Text].

Homicides rise in first quarter; violent crime down
Examiner, 25 Apr 2007 (Fowler) [Full Text].

Homicides up, overall crime down in first quarter of ‘07
Gazette, 24 Apr 2007 (Berger) [Full text].
Police Statement:
Police Department
Prince George's County, Maryland
7600 Barlowe Road, Palmer Park, Maryland 20785
Phone 301-772-4710 / Fax 301-772-4948

April 24, 2007

Chief High Says Crime Still Trending Down First Quarter

Prince George's County, Maryland…Police Chief Melvin C. High said today that overall crime was down in Prince George's County in the first quarter of 2007, with violent crime down twenty percent, property crime down 3.5 percent and auto theft down nearly eight percent.

"That the trend in crime continues downward is the important message I want to deliver to the citizens and residents of the county," said Chief High.

During the first three months of 2007, crime results in the violent crime category continued. Robberies were down 14.7 percent, rapes down 2.4 percent, carjacking was down 22.9 percent and assaults were down 25.5 percent. Property crime was also down by 3.5 percent, with auto thefts down an additional 7.9 percent in the quarter.

"We are seeing a continuation of the good results from last year, but there is no doubt that this snapshot of the crime landscape in the first quarter has challenged us because we were hit hard by homicides." High said that even with violent crime down overall, there were fourteen more homicides in the first quarter of 2007 than in the same period a year ago – a percentage increase of fifty-six percent.

"Nonetheless, we are still focused on the same policing fundamentals that placed us among the few major jurisdictions last year where violent crime was down," said Police Chief Melvin C. High.

In his remarks, Chief High said that crime is addressed as a system problem, in which every part of the system has to be in accord from arrest to prosecution and sentencing. With regard to career or serial criminals High said, "If we can manage them, interacting and cooperating with other jurisdictions, lo

"The men and women of this department are working hard every day, and one quarter does not make the year. The nexus of drugs and guns, career and serial criminals, the reality of the high rate of recidivism and the challenge to every part of the criminal justice system remain our key challenges."

Assistant Chief of Police Roberto Hylton, in reviewing first quarter crime statistics said, "I'm confident that the same basic policing model our officers executed on the street last year will be successful again. The impetus is to continue to impact disorder, continuing to use traffic enforcement and field operations to disrupt loitering around businesses and in and around the property of some of our apartment complexes, where we are seeing an increase in drug trafficking."

Hylton said the department's increased productivity with gun and narcotics seizures substantiates the drug trafficking activity, and that, "…increased productivity with field observations is valuable documentation of our contact with individuals on the street and high visibility traffic enforcement enables us to address the mobility of those who may be traversing the county for criminal activity."

Assistant Chief Darrin Palmer, head of Support Services, introduced Lt. Colonel Markus Summers, Deputy Chief of Investigative Services, under which falls the Criminal Investigations Division (CID), and Lt. Colonel Michael Blow, Deputy Chief of the Strategic Management, under which falls recruiting and the Community Policing Institute.

In his remarks, Assistant Chief Palmer said the department's progress on fulfilling the requirements of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Justice Department is at a critical juncture. "We have made enormous progress, and we are anticipating a point at which we can be fully into the implementation phase and potentially a release from the Department of Justice."

Earlier this year, the department was released from the Consent Decree related its K-9 Unit. Palmer said, "The release this year from the Consent Decree was a great source of pride for the Chief and for the department. As we move toward fulfillment of the MOA, we are clear that the process itself has improved all our processes and indeed changed the DNA of the department."

Colonel Summers said the chief's homicide task force has been focusing on identifying those cases where there are linkages between victims, suspects or circumstances that may involve ongoing criminal enterprise.

Colonel Blow said the Strategic Management Bureau is anticipating the graduation of approximately 200 new officers, with the graduation of 79 officers from session 109 in May 17, 2007, 59 officers from session 110 in June 2007 and 62 officers from session 111 in August 2007. Session 112 is scheduled to begin in July 2007 and Session 113 is scheduled to begin in September 2007. Both sessions are slated to have 65 recruit officers.

In addition, Blow said recruitment is still attracting large numbers of qualified candidates. During this quarter the agency received 1,343 applications. Blow also mentioned that the Community Policing Institute will be moving into its new training facility within the next two months.

In closing Chief High said "We asked for the financial resources needed for equipment, vehicles and manpower to make this the best police force in the nation. We have it. We asked communities countywide to be our partners in this fight against crime, and more than ever they are doing that. Now together, we must simply stay the course, and the citizens and residents of the county have our commitment that we will do that."

For more information, contact the Press Information Office at (301) 772-4710.

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