When it comes to crime in Prince George's County, the 1980s are coming back.
At a standing-room only news conference at the county's District III police station in Palmer Park, Prince George's County police and government officials announced a year of historically low crime statistics, including drastic reductions in the homicide rate and the residential burglary rate. The last time crime was this low, Ronald Reagan was president and Doug Williams was the Redskins' quarterback.
Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw highlighted improved inter-agency cooperation among county departments with a focus on reducing crime as a critical element in the decline.
Dubbed the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative,
"There's a renaissance on the way in this county," said Magaw during the media session. "At the core of it is the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative."
County officials credited the program, which is focused on Langley Park, East Riverdale, Palmer Park, Suitland, Hillcrest Hights and Oxon Hill areas, with an overall 8.75 percent drop in overall crime in those neighborhoods. That includes an 11.5 percent drop in violent crimes and a 7 percent drop in property crmes.
The number which received the most attention was the reduced countywide homicide rate. Homicides have declined by 35.5 percent since 2011. This year saw 60 murders in Prince George's County, down from 93 the year before.
Official enthusiasm for the reduced murder rate was dampened somewhat by news of a murder in Seat Pleasant earlier in the morning which saw a 25-year-old man gunned down as he held his infant child. The child was hit by the gunfire, but is expected to live.
Countywide, overall total crime came down 7.1 percent, with 2,240 fewer crimes reported than the previous year. Overall violent crime declined 7.6 percent and property crimes declined 7.1 percent. Non-fatal shootings declined 12 percent.
Fatal motor vehicle wrecks declined 29 percent and fatal pedestrian crashes are down 14 percent.
Auto thefts are down by nearly 15 percent. Robberies declined 8.5 percent. Burglaries declined by 19 percent.
"When all public safety partners are working in concert and engaging the communities they serve, positive results are more likely," said County Executive Rushern Baker in a statement distributed before the news conference. "Today's statistics are an overwhelming result and a sign that the infusion of the community policing, the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative strategy, collective efforts of the State's Attorney and Sheriff's Offices as well as state and federal resources are making an undeniable mark in all categories of the county's public safety commitment to our residents and citizens: To serve and protect."