UPPER MARLBORO – Crime may be down in Prince George’s County, according to the county police, but the department is requesting a 3.3 percent budget increase. According to Anya Makarova, a policy and budget analyst for the county, crime has decreased by 11.8 percent in fiscal year 2014, and there have been eight fewer homicides […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Crime may be down in Prince George’s County, according to the county police, but the department is requesting a 3.3 percent budget increase.
According to Anya Makarova, a policy and budget analyst for the county, crime has decreased by 11.8 percent in fiscal year 2014, and there have been eight fewer homicides than the previous year.
Hoping to see the crime rate continue to fall, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has proposed a $292.8 million budget for the police department in 2015.
County Councilwoman Karen Toles, chair of the council’s public safety and fiscal management committee, expressed gratitude for the job the police department has done, she asked Chief of Police Mark Magaw to develop a public safety plan. The county faces growing economic development, she said, including the MGM casino in the National Harbor and a new hospital. With all of the new projects, she said the 4th police district will face challenges.
“We want to balance our safety needs and be as fair as possible,” Toles said.
The 4th police district which borders Washington, D.C., includes Oxon Hill, Hillcrest Heights and Fort Washington.
“I’m worried about people coming in from D.C.,” Toles said. “We need to do more to protect our borders. We need an overall public safety plan.”
Magaw said he hopes the creation of a seventh district at the beginning of next year will help reduce the pressure on district four.
Additionally, Magaw said the police force has almost reached its goal of growing to 1,800 officers. Currently the force consists of 1,786 sworn officers, 309 full-time civilians and 155 part-time civilians.
“We are very close to 1,800 at the end of County Executive Baker’s first term. We will continue to grow,” Magaw said. “Look at everything this department is asked to do and the area we are asked to cover and how big our communities are becoming. The police department needs to be forward thinking and continue to grow to meet our demands.”
Toles said she was particularly concerned about the casino, and asked if the police department has a plan in place to handle the any crime that may come along with it.
“Everything you are doing is great,” Toles said, “but we are walking into uncharted territory.”
The department is working on developing law enforcement plans, Magaw said, and he told Toles he would be happy to share any plans with her.
The committee also questioned Magaw about why he projects overtime pay to cost $18.9 million, $3 million more than 2014.
Magaw $18.9 million is a more realistic projection and is driven by county police being used for special events, particularly at FedEx Field.
Councilman Derrick Davis said it is important the county makes sure the police department is being reimbursed for its coverage of special events.
“We have to establish it up front,” Davis said. “The world is coming to Prince George’s County and it is up to us to be prepared and keep everyone safe. I don’t want to see us trying to control this on the back end.”
The Council has until May 1 to adopt Baker’s overall fiscal year 2015 budget.