Continuing a six year trend, crime in Hyattsville saw another year of dramatic declines, according to data released by the Hyattsville City Police Department earlier this week.
Hyattsville Police Chief Doug Holland attributed the declines to an effective police force and improved communication between the police department and the community.
"We've made some gains with community involvement, getting the residents more involved with us and each other," said Holland in an interview. "We have some good, old fashioned police work going on. Our investigative staff has been working at a very high level.
Last year saw crime dropped across every category except for three. The city saw increases in the number of rapes, assaults and arsons compared to 2011.
The overall number of crimes reported to the city police declined 7.6 percent from 1,487 to 1,365. Much of that decline was led by large reductions in property crimes and smaller reductions in crimes against persons.
There were no murders in Hyattsville last year. The year before, 21-year-old Leonard Raynod Smith-Matthews was fatally stabbed at University Town Center.
There were six rapes reported in Hyattsville in 2012, up from two reported in 2011. Only two of 2012's reported rapes were related to the string of rapes along the Northwest Branch Trail Hiker Biker Trail in the early months of the year. Of the other rapes, only one was a "stranger rape". The others involved suspects believed to be acquainted with the victims. Of the six rapes reported in Hyattsville last year, police arrested suspects in connection with half of them.
Citywide, residential burglaries declined nearly six percent, from 135 reported in 2011 to 127 reported in 2012. Despite this decline, Wards 4 and 5 saw increases in the number of residential burglaries in their neighborhoods. The localized spike was most pronounced in Ward 4, which saw a 47 percent increase in residential burglaries, going from 34 reported in 2011 to 50 reported in 2012. Ward 5 saw a 35 percent increase in residential burglaries, jumping from 17 reported in 211 to 23 reported in 2012.
The number of arsons reported in the city jumped slightly in 2012 from two to three.
The number of reported crimes in Hyattsville has decreased every year since 2007, including sharp drops over the last two years. This also coincides with a sharp drop in crimes observed by the county police department over that time.
Holland said that correlation was no coincidence. City and county police departments have been increasingly working across department lines to share information which could help prevent or solve crimes.
"There is so much more communication and coordination among all the agencies in Prince George's County at all levels," said Holland. "They freely provide resources if you just ask."
Looking ahead to next year, Holland said his goal is to get the department fully staffed. There are currently a number of vacancies in the patrol and investigative divisions.