- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When it comes to finding strategies to reduce crime in Prince George’s County, state’s attorney Glenn F. Ivey is open to innovation. When it comes to his political ambition, the same is true.

Well into his second term, Mr. Ivey is angling to move up in county leadership. But he faces some obstacles, including fallout over the unsolved death of an inmate, a potential political challenge from a close friend and the county’s ongoing public safety woes.

The bespectacled Mr. Ivey keeps a signature goatee and speaks calmly about whatever might be thrown his way.

“One pastor told me, ‘Ivey, you might be riding high now, but if they can turn on Jesus in a week, you know they can turn on you,’ ” Mr. Ivey said recently. “I’ve kept that in mind.”

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Ivey publicly acknowledged for the first time that he’s “considering” a bid for county executive next year. He’s ruled out vying for a state-level post at this time but is careful not to speculate about future plans.

“Sometime, in the rest of my life, I might hold a state position,” Mr. Ivey said. “We have to figure out the next step before we figure out what comes after.”

Mr. Ivey, who lives in Cheverly, said he received votes across all demographic lines and expects he would do so again, even with the county’s growing Hispanic community.

But if he makes the jump for county executive, Mr. Ivey will have many factors to consider. He has to juggle the schedules of his five sons, ages 8 to 19, as well as his wife’s political future. (State Delegate Jolene Ivey, a Democrat from Prince George’s County, is up for re-election next year.)

The race also could pit him against Rushern Baker III, a longtime friend and former state delegate who is running for the same job.

Mr. Baker calls Mr. Ivey a “very bright and honest guy.” He said Mr. Ivey has tackled some public safety concerns, but more still needs to be done.

“We are one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the state yet our crime is consistently at the top,” Mr. Baker said.

Shaar Mustaf, president of Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program Inc. in Forestville, works with youth involved in gangs in the county. Mr. Mustaf said Mr. Ivey is receptive to his ideas, such as providing services to juveniles offenders.

Mr. Mustaf said he was surprised by Mr. Ivey’s support given that he worked for Mr. Ivey’s opponent in past elections. He said he can go to Mr. Ivey’s office with complaints, knowing he will be heard.

“He takes his time and speaks the issues,” Mr. Mustaf said of Mr. Ivey. “Sometimes folks may see that as lazy … or not too aggressive, but I think that’s his demeanor - he’s an easygoing guy.”

Mr. Ivey acknowledges that the county continues to struggle with homicides, carjackings, sex offenses, truancy and other crimes. But he said he’s worked to curb those trends during his tenure.

For instance, there were about 120 homicides last year and 45 so far this year. That puts Prince George’s on pace to have fewer than 100 homicides this year, Mr. Ivey said.

“It’s certainly not time for a victory lap,” Mr. Ivey said of the crime statistics. “But they do seem to be moving in the right direction.”

The prosecutor gives some credit to reforms he’s made, such as creating units on domestic violence, guns, violent crimes gangs and economic crime. He said he’s also taken some lessons he learned as a federal prosecutor in Washington and changed the way attorneys screen cases, forcing them to make decisions well before going to trial.

Mr. Ivey says intervention and prevention are also key. He ticks off various programs that his office coordinates outside the courtroom, including Project Safe Sunday, which partners with churches to fight domestic abuse, and a literacy program providing tutors to second-graders at six schools.

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