Police in a Maryland county scarred by a violent start to the year reported a drop in crime Wednesday as part of a beefed-up police presence during the summer months.
As part of the summer crime initiative, Prince George's County police devoted additional resources to five crime-plagued communities and also collaborated more closely with other departments and agencies and hosted regular neighborhood walks and community gatherings. Police and representatives from other county agencies met with 67 people on parole or probation to warn them against committing new crimes and to offer them help with food stamps and other government services.
None of the 67 reoffended during the summer, said county Police Chief Mark Magaw.
Magaw reported a 12.1 percent year-to-date drop in violent crime, an 8.4 percent drop in property crimes and an overall decline of 9 percent. Crime also dropped this summer in the five targeted communities -- Langley Park, Suitland, Hillcrest Heights, Riverdale and Glassmanor.
“As you raise these communities, you raise the whole county. And that was the thought,” Magaw said after a news conference at police headquarters.
The crime drop is a modicum of good news for a county still recovering from a year-opening spasm of violence, when police reported 13 homicides in the first 11 days of 2011 after closing out 2010 with its lowest homicide total in a decade. Because of that January spike, the county is still up nine homicides over the same time last year, Magaw said.
State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said her office is continuing to work on crime prevention and aggressively responding to quality-of-life concerns, such as abandoned properties and illegally opening nightclubs. Her office has also set up a new unit to focus on probation violators.
“The smartest strategy we ever have is prevention,” she said.
County Executive Rushern Baker III said he hoped the crime drop would be sustainable.