Despite public perception that Prince George’s County’s crime rate is high, it’s actually dropping dramatically, particularly violent crime.
County police say crime in Prince George’s County is at its lowest in 35 years and continues to drop. So far in 2011, reports show violent crime is down 13 percent compared to this time last year.
The county’s Assistant Police Chief Kevin Davis called the decrease a “significant stride” for a county that started out the year with a reported
In Bowie, yearly figures will soon be available that will show crime as having decreased during 2011, said Bowie Police Chief John Nesky.
“Our numbers are seeing a decline, which we want to see,” said Nesky. “But you have to remember that for the people who have had crimes committed against them, the crime is quite real. We can’t rest on our laurels.”
In 2010, according to Nesky's fall report to the city council, there were 46 reported robberies in Bowie compared to 22 in the first eight months of 2011. Reported auto thefts are also down: There were 82 in 2010; 35 in the first eight months of 2011. There is a similar trend regarding residential burglaries.
There has not been a murder in Bowie in several years, Nesky said.
“Bowie does have its problems, but we’re definitely better off regarding crime than other parts of the county,” Nesky said.
While assertive community outreach by the police helps keep crime low in Bowie, Nesky gives credit to the residents.
"The sense of community here is so strong," Nesky said. "People know each other and stick together. We are able to work very closely with the community.”
Regarding the rest of Prince George’s County, county police investigated 164 murders and 784 automobile thefts (two of the most common types of crimes in the area) in 2005, but ithose numbers decreased to 90 murders and 119 auto thefts in 2011, police report.
Property crime has also decreased by 10 percent from the first 10 months in 2010 to the same time in 2011.
Prince George's County Assistant Police Chief Davis attributed much of the decrease to the county’s stronger relationships with local police departments, federal government agencies (such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency) and individual communities.
“Perception is always a matter that is keenly on our minds,” Davis said. “We engage in community outreach events and do more now than we ever have because we’ve realized the importance of building trust with the communities."
The department has a strategy to target potential repeat offenders. Of the 55,000 Maryland offenders on parole or probation, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention has identified 1,200 who are the most likely to commit more violent crime.
“If a homicide or violent crime occurs in, say College Park, we immediately identify all violent offenders on that list who live in a three-mile radius of where the crime occurred,” Davis said. “We go speak to them, either to see if they were involved or to see if they can help us identify the people who were.”
“There’s no one solution, no magic pill that will make people feel safe,” he said. "If there was one, it would be building good relationships between us, citizen groups, the media, advisory councils and local police to make communities aware of our efforts and success on their behalf.”