- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2005

With the number of violent crimes in Prince George’s County grabbing headlines, officials yesterday promised to weed out ineffective police officers, who they say are hampering the county’s fight against crime.

They also defended the police department’s community deployment strategy at a press conference yesterday afternoon after union leaders took aim at the department’s methods earlier in the day.

County Executive Jack B. Johnson and Chief Melvin C. High said the chief’s community services area (CSA) model is stifled by the unproductive officers.

“In the evaluation process of the CSA, we initially identified about 100 to 175 officers that showed no productivity at all,” Mr. Johnson said. “No arrests, no stops, no traffic investigations, nothing. Zip.

“The chief demanded accountability. My administration has provided unparalleled resources to the department. … We are not going to pay people who are not working.”

The county has seen a sharp spike in violent crimes this year. There have been 97 homicides so far — including police Cpl. Steven Graughan, who was fatally shot last month during a traffic stop in Laurel — compared with 80 at this time last year. And there have been 395 carjackings this year, compared with 265 last year.

Despite the rise in crime, Chief High said his officers are making headway in lowering the number of auto thefts and establishing a stronger community presence.

“The work of police officers is to go out and arrest crooks,” he said. “Every one of us has to pull their own weight, nothing less than that will be tolerated. Those are the expectations of our citizens, and I’m not going to let them down.”

“We have a number of officers who are performing at the highest level. … My concern is that there are many in our organization who are doing little to minimal work.”

But the county’s Fraternal Order of Police criticized Chief High’s community policing deployment strategies at a separate press conference yesterday morning, saying that the CSAs spread officers too thin throughout the county.

Cpl. Percel O. Alston, president of the FOP, also said that statistics used to identify ineffective officers are filled with questionable data, such as injured officers on disability leave and field training officers who were busy grooming new members of the force.

“There were officers with broken legs, broken arms, maternity leave — things like that — who didn’t have any statistics for a month or so,” Cpl. Alston said. “Some of those people are included in that list, and I know they’re extremely upset to be told they’re not productive.”

Cpl. Alston did not know and wouldn’t speculate why the chief insinuated these officers were to blame for the department’s woes. He also refused to comment on whether there was any validity to Chief High’s assertions.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Cpl. Alston said.



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