April 12, 2006
Prince George’s County, Maryland…Chief Melvin C. High said crime is down significantly in the first quarter of 2006. Homicides, and other violent crimes have decreased significantly, and homicide case closures are at an all time high.
During the first three months of 2006, homicides are down 37.5 percent compared to the first quarter of 2005, or 25 homicides in 2006 versus 40 at the same time last year. Every violent crime category is down except assaults in the first quarter: Rapes are down 15.7 percent; commercial robberies are down 33.7 percent, residential robberies are down 28.6 percent; citizen robberies are down 7.3 percent; and carjacking is down 23.4 percent. Property crime is also down in every category.
“Everything happens in phases, and these results are the second phase for us. We are seeing results of groundwork we laid last year with tactical deployment, a focus on policing fundamentals and productivity, building the size of our force and strengthening our relationship with the community,” said Police Chief Melvin C. High. “I’m proud of the men and women of this Department, and I know that residents are proud of them, too.”
Chief Melvin High praised Assistant Chief Roberto Hylton, who heads the Patrol Services Bureau and the District Commanders who lead each of the county’s six Police Districts, along with the Special Operations Division (SOD), the Auto Crimes Task Force, and administrative duty members who have been redeployed to patrol activity.
High said the Patrol Services Bureau is the foundation of police departments
everywhere, and that the consistent and sustained work that Commanders and their officers have been doing everyday is the key component in the Department’s suppression and prevention strategy. “Officers on the street support the work of every other unit within the Department, and that leads to arrests and the closing of cases.”
Head of the Patrol Services Bureau, Assistant Police Chief Roberto Hylton said his troops are executing the fundamentals, and singled out traffic enforcement, field observations and gun and drug seizures as vital focal points for reducing crime. “Our strategy is fundamental policing. We’re using high visibility traffic enforcement, and field operations to protect residents and let criminals know that wherever they are, we intend to be, too.”
Hylton said that a solid addition of new officers made it possible to reincorporate beats into the Department’s Community Policing Model, a policing tradition that helps officers gain an acute familiarity with each community’s residents and businesses. The beat structure helps create trust between the Department and the community. Our new officers, well prepared at the academy, are gaining valuable on the street experience by working closely with more experienced officers. They’re ready and they’re helping us change the landscape on crime in the county.”
Hylton also credited citizens with helping to bring down Auto Theft and Property Crimes, with auto theft declining last year for the first time since 1999, and trending down another 18 percent so far this year. Hylton said, “Citizens responded to the education strategy that came out of the Department and the County’s Auto Theft and Vandalism Prevention Task Force. We appreciate their help.”
Chief High praised Support Services, which includes the Investigative Services Bureau, under which falls the Criminal Investigations Division (CID). He said the teamwork between Patrol and Support Services is showing in arrests and case closures. The official homicide closure rate this year is 84 percent versus 70 percent this time last year, and CID robbery closure rate is 43 percent versus 10 percent last year.
Colonel Darrin Palmer, Commander of the Strategic Management Bureau said the Department’s recruitment campaign had created a momentum to grow the force that was continuing into 2006. Palmer said the Department began the recruitment campaign in mid-year 2005 and got 3,540 applicants just in the second half of the year, with 1,019 applicants having applied so far this year. Colonel Palmer said, “The people we’ve accepted are the best out of those who applied. We’ll graduate 100 plus new officers from the current class, and we’ll begin a class of about 115 in July. Our role in the Department’s crime-fighting strategy is to get good people and prepare them to serve this community. We’re clear about that.”
On the matter of staying ahead of attrition, Palmer said a major recruiting strategy is a slow process that takes time, but the Department is ahead and he expects attrition to slow. “We put a strategy in place where there was none. Any notion that our recruitment and training strategy isn’t working is misguided.”
In closing, Chief High said “I am proud of the men and women of the Prince George’s County Police Department. As I told residents in the six community meetings that I held in our Districts, this Department has come back from a period of decline and disrepair, and at a time when crime was trying to put a stranglehold on this community. We were down, although never out.”
Chief High also said that input and support from citizens and residents on community safety matters has been a critical component to the Department’s success. “This community isn’t just talking about ridding itself of crime, it’s doing something about it and we’re going to continue to partner with them in as many ways as we can.”
See also, Laurel Gazette, Thursday, April 13, 2006: Homicides fall for first quarter of ’06, police say. Most other crimes are also lower than this time last year, chief reports