- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The number of homicides in Prince George’s County decreased by roughly 21 percent last year, after a record-breaking year in 2005, authorities said yesterday.

There were 134 killings in the county last year, compared with 169 in 2005, according to the county police. Other types of crime also were down, with police reporting a 13.9 percent decrease in violent crime and a 12.5 percent reduction in property crime.

Police Chief Melvin C. High said he knew by early last year that anti-crime initiatives and efforts from previous years were starting to work.

“The answer to why crime is down is: Day in, day out, focused police work, on the street, when and where we should be,” he said.

The county reported decreases in nearly all violent-crime categories. Police statistics show sharp decreases in carjackings and robberies, and more modest declines in the number of sexual assaults, larceny and burglaries.

The number of reported property crimes also decreased markedly from 2005, with auto thefts and commercial burglaries dropping more than 20 percent. There were moderate decreases in the number of residential burglaries and larceny.

County Executive Jack B. Johnson joined Chief High at a press conference yesterday to praise the police department.

“These results speak to the importance of staying the course, which our officers did,” said Mr. Johnson, a Democrat.

Mr. Johnson and Chief High have taken to task unproductive members of the police force, who they said were stifling the community-policing program.

Unofficially, there have been four homicides in the county this year. The most recent was Friday night, when a clerk at a 7-Eleven in the 5500 block of Livingston Road was fatally shot during a robbery.

The county’s 2005 record of 169 homicides easily surpassed its previous record high of 154, set in 1991.

The decrease last year was the first time since 2003 that the number of homicides dropped from the previous year.

Chief High said establishing a stronger community presence and fostering better relationships with residents have been key.

“We asked [residents] to partner with us, and they have,” he said. “They begin to quickly see that crime suppression really is crime prevention.”

The District also had a sizable decrease in the number of homicides in 2006 — 169, compared with 196 in 2005. This was the fourth straight year the number has dropped.

Last year’s homicide total was the lowest since 1985, when the Metropolitan Police Department recorded 147 killings. Before that, the lowest total was in 1966, when 141 persons were killed.

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