PG County Murders on the Rise; Residents Concerned
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 23:01
There have been 14 homicides in Prince George's County, Md. as of Wednesday, Jan. 19 and police are scrambling to steady rising death rates.
"The real effort in preventing and stopping things that you've seen over the last couple of weeks in Prince George's County really depends on the community," County Executive Rushern Baker said during a press conference held this past Tuesday.
Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 12, 13 murders were committed in PG County, 11 of which occurred in the Beltway area and two were in Temple Hills. After only seven days of no activity, a man was shot on the 3500 block of Terrace Drive in Suitland this past Wednesday, according to police spokesman Cpl. Evan Baxter.
This rise in homicide this year seems sudden, especially in comparison to PG County's previous crime rate. In 2010, there were only 30 total homicides and according to FBI national crime statistics, PG County's violent crime rate was at its lowest since 1984, when its murder rate was down 40 percent. According to the Washington Informer, in 2010 retired Police Chief Robert Hylton credited the low crime to "a new mindset," and "cooperation officers were getting from residents in the county." Police are trying to reacquire that cooperation from the community in 2011.
Sophomore marketing major and resident of Hyattsville, Md., Chaka Baker, thinks residents are in shock due to the recent spikes in murders.
"People are in shock at how these murders are happening and it's not just in one area. It's just craziness," Baker said. "I'm angry at the fact, of course the families must be too. The community is angry. It's kind of like building up sticks and watching them fall back down again."
Most murder cases have to do with gangs, drug usage or theft. According to spokesman Clinton Copeland, one of the murders happened on the 7400 block of Riverdale Road, where a homeowner shot a man who tried to break into his home on Jan. 11. The next day, a 22-year-old University of Maryland student was shot in his home on the 8800 block of 38th Street. In his home, police found marijuana and packaging materials and suspect that he was selling drugs.
In the press conference held this past Tuesday, interim Police Chief Mark Magaw informed people that 75-100 officers were patrolling areas where homicides took place and that 150 arrests were made, 50 of which were felony charges.
Magaw also said that 1500 traffic stops were made, as well as 283 suspicious person stops. Agents from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives are involved in trying to solve cases and help with prevention of new ones.
"I think patrol is important," Baker said. "Police presence makes the community feel safer. Criminals are at a higher risk to get caught and persecuted."