- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

The U.S. Marshals Service has agreed to start deputizing some police officers in the District and Prince George’s County so they can cross the border to catch fleeing suspects.

“Criminals cannot cross … into the District of Columbia anymore because if they do they will be followed and arrested,” Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson said at a press conference in Oxon Hill yesterday announcing a series of cross-border initiatives in crime, health care and public works.

Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border say they have seen fleeing suspects elude capture because D.C. and Prince George’s police do not have arrest powers in neighboring jurisdictions.

However, U.S. Marshal George B. Walsh yesterday said the federal government will start deputizing officers on each side of the border to pursue “wayward members of society who use the territorial borders of the District of Columbia and Maryland” to avoid capture.

The initiative, which starts in two weeks, will consist of eight officers on each side of the border patrolling during the early morning and evening hours, Prince George’s Police Chief Melvin C. High said.

Chief High said D.C. and Prince George’s officers sometimes go on patrols together in the same car. He said the patrols could expand to around-the-clock hours and that more officers from each jurisdiction could be deputized.

The plan to deputize officers was one of several joint initiatives between Prince George’s and the District announced yesterday. Officials also plan to form a task force to study health care issues and to clean up roads connecting the two jurisdictions.

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said the initiatives, dubbed the Connected Communities plan, address “really nitty-gritty, quality-of-life issues.”

The regional health care task force will be appointed within a matter of weeks, Mr. Williams said.

The panel will be charged with studying the effects of the four major hospitals serving residents who live near the Prince George’s-District border. They are Fort Washington Hospital and Prince George’s Hospital Center in Maryland and Greater Southeast Community Hospital and Providence Hospital in the District.

Mr. Williams called the health care issue a “very delicate area.”

@$: In August, Mr. Williams angered some Prince George’s Hospital Center executives when he said the District should not pay for indigent city residents who receive care outside the District. The bill has not been paid.

The mayor’s comment came in response to a $5 million bill that the Cheverly-based hospital submitted to the District. The hospital says the bill is to cover thousands of D.C. residents without health insurance who received care at the facility.

Mr. Johnson yesterday said the task would examine the issue of how to pay for charity care for residents who cross the border to get treatment. Mr. Williams also said he wants the panel to discuss placing primary-care clinics in communities near the border.

Officials also announced a series of public works and transportation initiatives, including $500,000 in planned improvements to Southern Avenue, which divides Prince George’s and the District.

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