This Makes No Sense What So Ever!

from Maryland Politics Today

I am not one to stir the pot, but this is something I could not bite my tongue on for long. Looking at homicides in the Greater Washington Area for 2007 (now referred to as last year), there are only two jurisdictions with triple digit homicide numbers.

From The Washington Post, One of them is the District of Columbia, although that is somewhat expected considering that DC is a major city. I would also like to point out that DC is unfairly chronicled as the murder capital. It just seems that way because of the size of the city. It’s smaller than most major cities and even big cities. In all honesty, the homicide rate in the District is among the lowest in a 20 year period.

The other jurisdiction with triple digit homicide numbers is Prince George’s County. This is an absolute tragedy considering the homicide rates of neighboring Maryland counties, the only two that comes close to Prince George’s homicide numbers (if you want to call it close) is Montgomery County with 21 homicides and Anne Arundel County with 20 homicides. The surprising fact about the latter jurisdiction is that Anne Arundel County is due south of Baltimore City where they almost broke 300 homicides. The unofficial number according to The Baltimore Sun at last check was 278, but that doesn’t change the fact that the first homicide of 2008 happened minutes after midnight. And when you compare Baltimore City to Baltimore County, which hugs the east, west and northern borders of the city, They only had 37 homicides at last check.

Coming back to Prince George’s County, it is an embarrassment that our police department does not have homicides under control. At some point, waving the stats of other crimes going down becomes irrelevant when you have at least 100 people getting killed each year. According to statistics from Prince George’s County, Homicides spiked to above 100 beginning in 2001 where they reached 106 homicides, and they have not dipped below since.

In the nearly five years since County Executive Jack Johnson (D) appointed Police Chief Melvin High, homicides have steadily been creeping higher, where it is beginning to match D.C. in regards to the homicide rate. SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE PEOPLE.

I can now openly ask this question without fear of a journalistic backlash…CAN WE RECALL JACK JOHNSON PLEASE?! Johnson, CLEARLY, does not care about Prince George’s County’s violent crime problem, as evidenced in a WTOP (103.5FM) interview from not to long ago. He was talking about rape then, Lord knows what he thinks about murder. I also have to ask my fellow Prince Georgian’s (not me, I had enoughintegrity NOT to vote for him) why did you guys re-elect him? I am seriously thinking about making bumper stickers that say “Don’t Blame Me, I voted for Rushern.”

Say what you will about Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D), but when the homicide numbers spiked and the public was calling for Leonard Hamm’s head, at least she reacted (although to be fair, it was an election year and she was running for a full term.) Under normal circumstances, Chief High would be out faster than the Minnesota Vikings playoff chances for this year.

Don’t look for Johnson or High to be making any media rounds right away, they will have to answer tough questions in regards to the crime in Prince George’s County. Remember in 2007, they were tooting the homicide number dropping after coming off it’s bloodiest year in 2005? Andrea Roane on WUSA (Channel 9) said to High that they would love to have him on more often whether there is good news or bad news. Well Andrea, don’t look for him in the next couple of weeks…at least.

Hopefully, Baltimore City will something in regards to improvement this years, but I doubt it because City Hall is meddling with police affairs it should not be messing with. The first clue was when Baltimore City Police Commissioner Fred Bealefield said that he liked Mayor Dixon’s crime plan. Mayor Dixon’s crime plan should be to hire a competent police commissioner and nothing more than making sure he or she does their job.

If Johnson had any clue, he would have fired High and replaced him with Charles Ramsey while he was still on the beach. Unfortunately, our loss became Philadelphia’s gain when Ramsey accepted the police commissioner position in that city.

So in regards to a 2008 prediction, look for High to announce a brand new crime fighting strategy, that will be the same as the previous two new crime fighting strategies he had announced previously. Also look for Johnson to do something drastic that will upset the constituency…or businesses in the county like the last two years, first apartment property managers and last year nighclub owners.

Now to what I would like to see for the year 2008. Either or would be a vast improvement for Prince George’s County. Point black, either Johnson gets recalled (hopefully there is a provision in the County Charter that allows this) or High gets canned. Five years of this foolishness is enough and we need leaders that are serious about crime and not worried about keep up appearances.

P. Kenneth Burns is the editor/writer of Maryland Politics Today and is a contributor to Red Maryland. He lives in Laurel, Prince George’s County and can be reached at kennyburns@marylandpolitics.us.






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