Rethinking City’s Contract Police Program

Off duty police officers of Prince George's Police department serve in College Park contract police program

The Council will discuss renewing an agreement with the Prince George’s Police on City’s contract police program on next Wednesday’s Council worksession.

Before I talk about the future direction of the contract police program, here is a brief background of the program that staff has prepared for us.

The City began its current contract police program in 2004, with the assistance of Chief Magaw when he was District One Commander. He helped us get County approval of an MOU to hire PGPD officers, authorizing them to work part time secondary employment with the City as contract police officers. He recommended and recruited Lt. Keleti to work as our scheduling and supervising officer for our part time contract officers. Lt. Keleti still fills that role for the City, and, in addition, now schedules part-time officers employed by the City to review our speed camera citations. A pool of thirty (30) officers is currently available to fill part time shifts. They are scheduled to provide the approximate equivalent of 7.5 full time officers.

We expanded our contract police program in 2008, when Assistant Chief Davis was District One Commander. He assisted in getting the Police Services Agreement between the City and County approved for us to reimburse the County for the assignment of three (3) full-time officers to our contract program. District One command staff supervises our three full time contract officers. The same chain of command also supervises COPS officers working in College Park.

Under the contract, officers who work part-time are paid for hours worked only. The City pays all salary and overhead costs for the three officers who the County assigns to work full time as part of our service agreement. These costs include annual leave, holidays, training days, etc. The full time officers, although not as cost effective as the part time officers, were added to the program as a means to make staffing the program more consistent and maintain patrols schedules more predictably and reliably. As part time City contract officers are full time PGPD officers, there are times when the County may require them to work mandatory overtime. During those times, officers are may be held over for emergencies or for special assignment work; at those times it may not be possible to reschedule another officer to cover that shift. Having the three full time officers assigned to the City helps cover times when part time officers may not be available to work for the City.

The City funds the contract police program at $1,185,861 for FY13. The County bills the City semi-annually for the services provided by the Police Services Agreement. (Some lag time in the County billing results in payment for services not exactly coinciding with the City’s fiscal year budget process.) With the combined full and part time contract officers we add the equivalent of approximately 10.5 officers to supplement the PGPD beat, special squad (SAT, RST, etc.), aviation, and COPS officers assigned to College Park. In addition, UMPD/DPS, MSP, MNCPPC, and Metro Transit police patrol in areas of concurrent jurisdiction in the City. Although the MOU and Services Agreement with the County anticipate these City contract officers will be supplemental officers, they often respond to backup the beat officers dispatched to 9-1-1 service calls, and are often first on the scene. They have significantly increased the number of traffic stops and field observations in College Park, often resulting in arrests for warrants, DUI, etc.

Staff is recommending the continuance of the use the contract police program to enhance police visibility and services citywide. They believe our contract police program is a very good component of total police services provided in College Park, and look forward to continued improvement of the program.

That said, I personally think it’s time to rethink the future of the entire contract police program. The cost of the contract police program has more than doubled since it started in 2004. We are spending about 10% of our budget on the program, yet residents know very little about the program, per this survey. Given the increasing cost of the program, I think we ought to think other cost effective alternatives of the program, such as expanding concurrent jurisdiction of University of Maryland Police, introducing ambassador police program or even having City’s own police department. I hope to write more about these alternatives in separate posts in future.

Missing UMD Student Found Dead

A University of Maryland student who had been missing since Dec. 19 was found dead inside his vehicle nearly 10 days after his disappearance. Around 10 p.m. Friday, Prince George’s police discovered David Johnathan Scherr, 20, unresponsive inside his Ford Escape parked near Route 197 and Route 450. He was pronounced dead on scene.

The Class of 2014 UM student was a graduate of Pikesville High School in Baltimore County.

Council to Propose New Parking Zone for near Greenbelt Metro

Proposed Lackawanna / 53rd Parking Zone

After we discussed the parking situation near Greenbelt metro station in September 14 session, the Council will discuss the issue again in next Wednesday’s worksession.

Some residents who reside at the East end of Lackawanna Street are asking us to consider establishing a new residential parking permit restricted zone.

The residents are concerned about other residents from the existing Zone 3 who park their cars near the East end of Lackawanna Street to be closer to the Metro. The complainants also are concerned about commuters who use the streets near the intersection of 53rd Avenue and Lackawanna Street, and the dead end section, as a “Kiss and Ride” drop off and pick up spot for the Metro station.

Based on the residents’ feedback, we’re proposing the new zone to include a part of Lackawanna St (between 52nd and 53rd) and a part of 53rd Avenue (between 52nd and Lackawanna).

Following September 14 worksession,  we discussed this issue at North College Park Civic Association’s October 11 meeting. The NCPCA members adopted a resolution unanimously supporting the proposed zone.

Please see the new proposed zone in the left map (shown in green).

Year 2012 in Review

As another year passes and we embark upon a new one, I thought I would write a post to share some of important events in our neighborhood and my activities as your Council member in 2012.

On the Council, I supported the FY2013 budget that does not ask for an increase in any kind of tax, fees or fines from our residents. Instead we added more services for our residents. We added 100,000 for an additional full time police officer, 80,000 for the new middle and high school (College Park Academy), 25,000 to attract for environmentally friendly businesses, and 20,000 for noise enforcement.

We also worked to fund four license plate readers at the Edgewood / Rhode Island intersection. These devices have been effective in other areas of the City in enabling the police to resolve crimes and catch criminals. I have also supported a contract to replace the wooden guardrail along Narragansett Parkway with a new one.

With my colleagues on the Council, I supported the formation of the neighborhood stabilization group in order to help improve the quality of life in our neighborhood. This came after the Council decided to put its rent stabilization ordinance on hold for a year, in the hopes of working collaboratively with a residents, landlords, students and other  stakeholders to look at alternative ways to address the issues that the rent stabilization ordinance was intended to address.

I have also supported a marketing plan to promote the City as the best place to live and do business.

We have also witnessed two great events taking place in our neighborhood. In the past summer, a brand new skate park was opened in  Sunnyside. This should be a great opportunity for young residents to practice skills, participate in healthy outdoor activity and have fun. After a long wait, we have also seen traffic signals at the Edgewood Rd and Rhode Island Avenue operational this year. Thanks to the hard work of many residents, City and County Council members to make  the Skate Park and traffic signal projects successful.

Like in the past several years, I also organized neighborhood cleanups in summer, College Park Day in Fall and a winter clothing drive every December.

Upcoming Trash and Leaf collection Schedule

Leaf Season

The City offices were closed on December 24 and 25.Thus Wednesday’s trash collection will happen tomorrow.

Also, the City will be closed January 1st. Special or bulk trash pickups will ONLY be made on Friday, January 4. The trash/recycling collection for the week will be as follows:

Monday routes: Monday – 12/31
Tuesday routes: Wednesday – 1/2
Wednesday routes: Thursday – 1/3

Also, please note the leaf collection schedule in our area:
December 27 and January 4: Rhode Island avenue East,
January 3: Rhode Island Avenue west

Police Recovers Drugs and Money Following Shooting

Prince George's Police

In case you have heard of a gunshot incident at an apartment complex near IKEA early today, here is what happened.

A suspect was apparently attempting to force entry into the apartment when the occupant fired gunshots toward the front door at which time the “suspect” returned fire. Both the occupant and the “suspect” fled.

Responding officers discovered that the residence appeared to be being utilized for a large scale drug distribution operation. While checking the unit for possible victims, the officers observed several large plastic bags of marijuana packaged in 7 large boxes as well as several loose bags throughout the apartment. The officers also observed over $16,000.00 in US Currency and a magazine from a semi-automatic pistol. Several shell casing were recovered from the scene.

There was no evidence observed to indicate that anyone was actually struck by gunfire. Police took custody of the marijuana and currency pending further investigation.

Thanks to our police for a job well done.

NCP Crime Stats: Dec 19- 24, 2012

Please see below last week’s crime stats of our area. The assault incident near IKEA (9100 Milestone way) appears to be resulted from a room mate dispute. The Friday’s incident on Edgewood and Rhode Island is still under investigation. I will let you know once we find more information.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.

Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
12/17/2012 1140 THEFT 9300 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
12/17/2012 1217 THEFT FROM AUTO 4700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
12/17/2012 1936 AUTO, RECOVERED 9900 Blk 52ND PL
12/18/2012 1402 ROBBERY, COMMERCIAL 9000 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
12/19/2012 1025 THEFT FROM AUTO 9100 BLk BALTIMORE AVE
12/19/2012 1232 ASSAULT 9600 Blk MILESTONE WAY
12/19/2012 1846 THEFT 4700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
12/19/2012 1926 AUTO, STOLEN 9800 Blk RHODE ISLAND AVE
12/23/2012 835 THEFT FROM AUTO 4700 Blk CHEROKEE ST
12/23/2012 1737 THEFT FROM AUTO 5000 Blk INDIAN LN
12/24/2012 558 B & E, COMMERCIAL 4700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
12/24/2012 1214 THEFT FROM AUTO 9600 Blk MILESTONE WAY
12/24/2012 1310 THEFT 9100 Blk BALTIMORE AVE

The Shock and Worry after Friday’s Incident

John Frank Jenkins - Suspect arrested in in connection with Friday's incident

Last Friday’s pipe bomb incident may be over, but it has sent a shock and worry to many in the neighborhood.

Families with small children live on several houses next the site of the incident. I met a resident living very close to the house where the explosive device was found. For good reason, he too was very shaken.

“The explosion happened only several feet from my window.” – he told me with visible concerns on his face. On Friday night, I called our community police officer and have him talk to him. I found him settled a bit after he talked.

Here are a little more I’ve found that I’ve not reported earlier.

From eye witness account, the police came to the Edgewood Rd. scene little after midnight, very early in the early morning. Police car could be seen to block the road.

The explosive device was located near a white van around 4 a.m. The “hazardous device” is currently pending results of a lab test.

Also, John Frank Jenkins, 28, who was arrested and charged with two felony counts of manufacture or possession of a destructive device faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

Please let me know if you have further questions.

County Crime Figures Hit Historic Low

Good news. Crime in Prince George’s County is down for the first time in many years, said Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw, in a press conference last Wednesday.

The conference was also attended by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks.

The most celebrated reduction was the number of homicides recorded in the county which decreased from 95 for all of last year to 61 so far this year.

Last year, the County had 3,800 victims of crime. This year, the county had 3,200 crime victims, which is a drop of 600 victims,

A total of 29,135 crimes were recorded through Monday of this year compared to the 31,375 crimes recorded through all of last year, according to data provided by a county police spokesman.

In other categories, the number of assaults recorded this year is at 2,422 compared to 2,597 last year. Car thefts, which have historically been a problem across the county, were down to 4,294 incidents this year compared to 5,045 incidents for all of last year.

In 2012, crime declined in the following areas:

  • overall violent crime, down 7.6 percent;
  • overall property crime, 7.1 percent;
  • overall total crime, 7.1 percent or about 2,240 incidents;
  • homicides, 35.5 percent;
  • robberies, 8.5 percent;
  • burglaries, 19 percent;
  • stolen cars, 14.9 percent; and
  • non-fatal shootings, 12 percent.

Suspect Arrested in NCP Bomb Incident

In yesterday’s bomb incident, police made its first arrest.

The NBC Washington is reporting that at 10:30 a.m., investigators executed a search warrant at a house in the 9000 block of Rhode Island Avenue near Blackfoot Place in College Park. According to the report, a resident of that home – 28-year-old John Frank Jenkins – was arrested and charged with two felony counts of manufacture or possession of a destructive device. No hazardous devices were found in the home.

The Blackfoot / Rhode Island incident could be potentially related to Edgewood one, as in the Edgewood incident, a bomb was discovered and deactivated, whereas in the Blackfoot/Rhode Island incident, a person was arrested on the charge of “manufacture or possession of a destructive device”. The two incidents happened just in about 3 hours period.

When I spoke with Police information officer Mark Brady this morning at 9 am, he also told me that the Edgewood incident could be potentially related to another College Park pipe bomb incident that happened at 48th avenue, south of Greenbelt road, on this past Tuesday. You can find more information about that incident here:

“Hazardous Device” Deactivated on Edgewood, Residents are Safe

Bomb squad on Edgewood

In case you have noticed police / FBI activities at Edgewood / Rhode Island Avenue intersection, Here is what happened.

I went to the scene and spoke with Police information officer Mark Brady. Police found a hazardous device at one of the houses near Rhode Island avenue corner. The device has been deactivated and the police is questioning folks at the house.

“Residents are safe in the area”, I was told.

Mark also told me that the incident could be related to another incident near 48th avenue, where police found a pipe bomb early this week.

You can also find more information on WJLA here.

We will let you know if we find more information.

Police Makes 37 Arrests in 3rd Prostitution Sting Operation

Arrest in College Park prostitution sting operation (The Washington Post)

Thanks to our Police, who made 37 arrests in its 3rd one day sting operation against prostitution in College Park. The Washington Post reports.

Several police officers rented 5 rooms in a motel on Route 1 in this operation.

The Post writes-

In the past five years or so, College Park has become a popular hub for prostitution, safer than most other hot spots, easily accessible from highways and with a cluster of low-rent motels along Baltimore Avenue. The City Council knows what’s going on and is working with motel owners in an effort to tighten regulations, such as prohibiting charging by the hour. But on this day in November, Lushous (an undercover police officer) and other officers were trying to deter men from ever paying for sex again.

These sting operations have led to 227 arrests this year, mostly in the College Park area, with some in Oxon Hill. Since tackling the issue head-on in 2010, police have made 691 arrests in the same area.

Please read the complete story here.

Piling Leaf on the Street – What Can be Done?

Leaf should be piled on the curb of the street, but not on the street

Leaf should be piled on the curb of the street, but not on the street

As we’re going through leaf collection season, I was told by a resident that almost all of the leaf piles he has seen in his neighborhood are in the street – not merely overflowing across the curb but are almost entirely sitting in the street.

This is problematic, because, some leaves may end clogging storm drains and some are blocking parking spaces and access of the street, and even covering the yellow-painted curb areas next to fire hydrants.

The City does not have a code that would hold a resident responsible for placing leaf on the street. I checked with our staff and found that the Council did not discuss any such issue in the past. I am not sure if it is a good idea to hold resident responsible for that, as the issue seems to be very wide spread.

The City has been working hard to tell people to not leave the leaves in the street, to have them on the yard up against the curb. This can probably be enhanced by placing an educational notice to residents who don’t comply with this direction.

Please let me know what you think

December New Business Openning News

Please see here the December edition of the College Park Business Beat. This month’s edition features news on Ivy Noodles, Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, and the pending launch of a Commercial Tenant Improvement Program.

Arrests Made in Assault Incidents: NCP Crime Stats (Dec 9-15, 2012)

Please see below last week’s crime stats and the highlights of a few incidents

  • In 5000 Block Odessa Rd incident, police arrested a person when she began spitting on the police officer after making false claim that she was assaulted by another person.
  • The 5100 Block Lackawanna St. incident was a carjacking case where 4 juvenile males approached the victim. One of the suspects displayed a hand gun. The suspects then fled in the victims vehicle. Fortunately, the victim was unharmed.
  • In 9200 Block 51st Avenue incident, a resident called to report a fight between 12 drunk males in the middle of the street. Once on scene, the police officer arrested involved parties.

Let’s thank our police officers for making apprehension in two assault incidents. Also, let’s be extra careful about our surroundings as we are going through this holiday seasons. At the end of this report, you will find a few general crime prevention tips to reduce our chance of being a crime victim during this time of the year and to remain safe during the holiday shopping season.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.

Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
12/09/2012 1321 ASSAULT ( Arrest) 5000 Blk ODESSA RD
12/11/2012 57 Carjacking 5100 Blk LACKAWANNA ST
12/11/2012 1108 ASSAULT 9900 Blk RHODE ISLAND AVE
12/11/2012 1506 THEFT 4700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
12/12/2012 1148 AUTO, STOLEN 9300 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
12/14/2012 820 THEFT 9800 Blk RHODE ISLAND AVE
12/14/2012 1533 THEFT 9800 Blk RHODE ISLAND AVE
12/14/2012 1700 ASSAULT (Arrest) 9200 BLK 51ST AVE
12/15/2012 2302 THEFT FROM AUTO 5000 Blk BRANCHVILLE RD

CRIME PREVENTION TIPS


When Shopping:

  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk in well-lit areas; populated areas; avoid cut-through paths.
  • Try to park in busy, well-lit areas and avoid parking beside large vehicles.
  • Lock your car doors, and place all valuables in the trunk or under the seats.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of cash, pay with a check or credit cards.
  • Keep your purse closed and close to your body and/or carry your wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket
  • If you do return to your vehicle to unload purchases, place them in the trunk.

At Home:

  • Don’t display presents under the tree where they can be seen from a window.
  • Keep all windows and doors locked when you are away from home.
  • If out of town, stop mail and newspaper deliveries and place a light on a timer, this will give the appearance of someone being home.
  • Have a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your residence.
  • After the holidays, don’t advertise gifts received by the boxes left for the garbage collection. Destroy boxes and place in a sealed, non-clear garbage bag
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