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PALMER PARK – Prince George’s County experienced a reduction in violent crime last year and had an overall downward trend in the volume of crime over the last seven years, government and public safety officials announced on Jan. 8.
“The facts are that (crime) has been reduced by more than half and that is not an anomaly. That is on purpose, that is the product of good strategy, that’s the product of men and women, going out on the streets of Prince George’s County day in, day out, and working to prevent crime from happening on the first place,” Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said.
“We no longer seek to just catch the person after they’ve committed the crime. Our job is to prevent it from happening in the first place.”
Jennifer Donelan, director of media relations for Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) said these statistics only reflects PGPD’s numbers. They do not include the data for the police forces of the county’s individual municipalities.
At the beginning of 2010, 103 crimes on average were committed in the county every day, Stawinski said. By the end of last year, that number had decreased to 49 per day.
Just a year ago the per day average was slightly higher than 2016’s average of 48 crimes per day. Stawinski attributes the change to a “slight increase in property crime.”
It marks the seventh year in a row in which the overall violent crime number dropped from the previous year.
Stawinski said the county saw a 6.6 percent drop in overall violent crime last year, and homicides are down 18 percent.
He attributed the decrease in the overall crime rate to the “hard work of the men and women of institution, (the) active participation of our community in letting us know where the issues are so that we can be proactive in preventing them.”
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks likewise noted the importance of improved community relations.
“I believe we have been able through our partnerships, both here with our partners and also with this community, to establish the kind of relationships now where we have earned the trust of the public in the area of public safety,” she said.
“That they don’t believe that we are perfect, but they believe that we care, they believe that we are competent, and on any given day that has been so very important to this community.”
County Executive Rushern Baker, III said the reduction in crime has helped spur economic development in the county.
“No one was willing to invest as long as they thought crime was an issue in the county,” Baker said. “But, they’re willing to take a chance because they’ve seen the work of these men and women of our police, sheriff and corrections over the years.”
He said development projects, such as Downtown Largo and The Hotel at the University of Maryland, are “interrelated” to the decrease of crime.
“In order to truly solve and to get further along with solving crime and education problems, it means that we have to look at our communities as a whole and make sure that they’re better,” Baker said.
Alsobrooks agreed further progress will hinge on community improvements.
“We have never said that Prince George’s County is perfect,” she said. “We don’t say that we have solved the crime issue in Prince George’s County.
“Because in order to truly solve and to get further along with solving crime and education problems, it means that we have to look at our communities as a whole and make sure that they’re better.”