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Meet the New Police Chief – Hector Velez

Hector Velez

After serving only 9 months as the District 1 Police Chief, Mr. Liberati is leaving his post.

Capt. Hector Velez, a 16-year veteran of the Prince George’s County Police Department will assume the rolw of District 1 Commander role.

Earlier, Mr. Velez was assigned to the District 1 substation, which includes Hyattsville, Langley Park and surrounding areas, for two years before he was transferred to Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton’s office in April to serve as the chief’s executive officer.

Mr. Velez has agreed to come to NCPCA’s March 2011 meeting (on March 10) and speak to North College Park residents.

Mr. Leberati was at NCPCA’s last October meeting and answered residents’ questions.

Capt. Velez, 44, who joined the county police force in 1994, focused proactively on quality-of-life issues, including overcrowding, drinking and urinating in public, gangs and crime. He emphasized the value of having police and the community work together to solve problems and has led Citizens Advisory Committee meetings in his district.

On Mr. Velez’s new role, the outgoing Police Chief Maj. Liberati said : “”A lot of the community around here … is very Hispanic,” Liberati said. “Velez will provide a dimension that I cannot.”

City Fails to Make Residents Feel Safer, Survey Says

Hey College Park - How safe do you feel?

About 1 in 4 residents don’t completely feel safe when they walk on neighborhood streets
About 2 in 5 residents don’t completely feel safe in the neighborhood where they live
About 2 in 3 residents don’t completely feel safe near the Greenbelt Metro station

These are only a few numbers that the City disclosed recently on its bi-yearly residents’ survey.

You can view the complete survey results on City’s website here.

What is striking about these results is that they haven’t changed much from the previous years. In other words, residents are still feeling unsafe when it comes to public safety in the city.

In fact, in some categories, things went worse in the past 2 years. For example, the number of pedestrians that do not feel safe in the city continues to increase (from 27% in 2008 to 28% in 2010). The same figure near the Greenbelt Metro has gone up from 61% to 64%.

The survey also says for all these safety ratings that, where possible, respondents commented that they felt safe during the day but not at night, prompting perhaps biased results similar to in 2008.

Police Nabs North College Park Robbery Suspects

Derek Sean Waddy

After a string of armed commercial robberies in the city, here comes some relief.

Yesterday afternoon, the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Robbery Unit has made two arrests in connection with multiple commercial armed robberies.

According to PGPD, On February 25, 2011 at approximately 9:30 p.m., Derek Sean Waddy, 29, of the 9900 block of 51st Avenue in College Park, was arrested in connection with several armed robberies in the city.

After further investigation a second suspect, William Edward Patton Jr., 34, of the 9700 block of 52nd Avenue in north College Park, was arrested a day later.

Waddy and Patton have been charged with armed robbery and remanded to the Department of Corrections in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. They are being held on a no bond status for their involvement in the robberies of a Pizza Hut and the College Park Diner both located in the 9200 block of Baltimore Avenue.

William Edward Patton Jr.

In both robberies the suspects displayed a handgun and demanded money from the cash register. The victims in both cases complied and gave the arrested an undetermined amount of cash before fleeing the scene on foot.

What seems alarming is that both suspects live in north College Park neighborhood!

For more information, please contact the Press Information Office at (301) 772-4710.

Second Armed Robbery in Hollywood Shopping Plaza

El Cordoves Reward Poster

Just three days after the tobacco shop Bamboo Eater was robbed, a second store in the Hollywood shopping plaza ‘El Cordoves’ was robbed at gunpoint.

 El Cordoves is a Latino grocery store, located at 9933 Rhode Island Ave in Hollywood shopping Plaza. The store opened its door only about a year ago.

According to the Prince George’s County Police Department, the robbery happened at 8:00 pm. 

The police is working to identify the suspects shown in the surveillance photographs.

Anyone with information that may assist in this investigation is asked to call CRIME SOLVERS at 1-866-TIPS (8477) or CID-Robbery Unit at 301-772-4905 as soon as possible.  Please refer to case number 11-043-2235. Whenever information is given to the Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Line, you do not have to leave your name. A REWARD of up to $1000.00 is being offered for the tip that leads to the arrest and indictment of the suspects responsible for this robbery.       

9933 Rhode Island Ave

Residents, Police to Discuss Gangs in Neighborhood

Number of gangs in PG county

If you have seen group of young folks hanging around your street corners after dark, night after night, for no apparent reason, chances are that they are part of organised gangs.

The presence of gangs in our county is real. According to a recent statistics, there are some 23 gangs in our part of the county (district 1).

In late spring 2008, the Prince George’s County Council established the Youth and Gang Violence Task Force (CR-25-2008) to review and evaluate the County’s violence prevention programs and make recommendations to ensure a well-coordinated and systematic violence prevention effort in the County. This resulted in a report, which was published in 2009. 

I recently received an email from one my neighbors on such a gang around four corner area and the police thankfully responded promptly.

In case you’re not sure, talk to your local police officer. Better yet, try to attend the meeting tomorrow with the police, who will be discussing this issue in particular.

The community meeting will held at District 1 in the conference room (5000 Rhode Island Ave.) at 6:30pm. A special presentation will be given by Sgt. George Norris of the PGPD Gang unit / Gang Expert.

Hit by ‘Homicide a Day’, County Officials Turn to FBI, Pastors

Hit by 13 homicides in the first 13 days of the year, the Prince George’s officials are scrambling their heads on what to do to tackle this unusual spike of violent crime incidents.

According to the Washington Examiner, the county’s 13 killings exceed the 12 U.S. military deaths that have occurred this year in Afghanistan as of Friday morning.

In the mean time, federal agents have begun embedding with Prince George’s County police department homicide squads as part of an increasingly concerted effort to solve and stop the spate of killings.

The federal agents will come from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, though how many would join county detectives, is still unknown.

County police have also enlisted other area law enforcement agencies to help: On Wednesday night, officers from the Maryland State Police, the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Department, Mount Rainier Police Department and Bladensburg Police Department joined county police to saturate areas of the county where some of the murders have taken place.

“We will stop the unacceptably high level of violence which has plagued our inner beltway communities since the beginning of the year,” said Interim Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw in a statement. “This will be a concerted, sustained effort that will include the PGPD, Office of the Sheriff, municipal police departments, Federal agencies, and community & business leaders. Together, we are a formidable force that will bring calm to all segments of our County.”

On another front, Prince George’s County States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks is turning to the faith community to help address the recent spate of killings in the county.

Alsobrooks said she will visit several churches this weekend and appeal to church members to help her reach out to young adults.

Alsobrooks said she will attend Mount Ephraim Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro Sunday. On Monday she will be part of a panel discussion at First Baptist Church of Glenarden as part of the church’s Martin Luther King Day event.

“Part of what I will be talking about at First Baptist is changing the culture,” Alsobrooks said. “These young people have been taught they should not get involved and to stop snitching. I want to start a counter-campaign called speak up and that we have an active responsibility to come forward and help rid our community of this violence.”

January 2011 Crime Map

Today, I received the first batch of weekly crime reports from the PGPD community liaison officer Jaron Black; so I thought I should plug them in to our January crime map. I will add more crime data as I receive them from Ofc. Black and College Park contract police officer. Please check back this map in coming weeks.

Please click on the red markers to get more details about each crime incident.

4700 Cherry Hill

9000 Baltimore Ave, College Park, MD 20740

8900 Rhode Island Ave

5500 Greenbelt Rd

4700 Cherry Hill Rd, College Park, MD 20740

8100 Baltimore Ave, College Park, MD 20740

9100 Baltimore Ave, College Park, MD 20740

The map is based on the following reports:

PGPD report January 04, 2011
PGPD report January 11, 2011

Residents, City Officials Weigh in Progress Made in 2010, Make Wishes for 2011

As yet another year has just disappeared from the city’s screen, residents and the City officials engaged in a lively discussion on what they think about the progress made in the past year and what to expect in the new year.

The City saw the leanest budget in years, due to thousands of dollars of loss in State revenues and property taxes, yet there were signs of progress that several City officials tried to show off.

On the other hand, overall reactions from most residents can be summarized as “mixed”.

The issue of public safety seems still a hot button issue. While the county’s overall crime rates have seen a 35 year drop in the past year, the city has seen a modest rise in violent crimes such as assaults, homicides and robberies. For example, the overall violent crimes against persons, from 2009 to 2010 have increased 10%, whereas crimes against properties, such as burglaries during the same period have gone down 18.4%.

There are however attempts to improve public safety, especially in downtown area.

Crime is an issue, but as a result of a state grant we were able to install about 20 security cameras downtown at year’s end.  In 2011 we will be able to judge their effectiveness and determine if such cameras are an economical substitute for adding more police.” – said District 2 council member Bob Catlin.

There were no such security cameras for north College Park residents. The area residents were shocked by a sexual assault incident when a 15 year girl was attacked by a stranger at the north entrance of Greenbelt station in the past summer. Though the suspect was arrested 3 months later, residents felt a security camera at the Metro entrance could’ve prevented the incident. The City will soon send a 300+ signature petition to WMATA asking them to install the cameras at the Metro entrance.

There were also concerns about police presence. PGPD’s District 1 had a new police chief in 2010 (Maj. Liberati) and  a new community liaison officer (Mr.Jaron Black). The new leadership is also publishing crime reports for the north and the south College Park on a weekly basis and having a weekly morning coffee club gathering to update neighbors about the crime incidents.

However, that did not stop some residents from expecting more. “the police still do not get out of their cars and their reports still include inaccuracies and people still have trouble with responsiveness – I don’t think we will see any real changes unless and until we have our own police force.” said Stephen Jascourt, a north College Park resident. Mr. Jascourt however thinks that attempts have been made to involve the police more in the community and getting more information more quickly to the community.

Updates on Blue Light Phone, Camera Petition at Greenbelt Metro

Blue Light Phone

It’s been a while since we talked about the safety measures at the Greenbelt Metro entrance.

Our discussion started since the assault incident last summer, when a 15yr old girl was sexually assaulted at the place. Since then, we talked many things on how to improve safety of the neighbors who ride Metro through that entrance. I thought I should give you some updates on those measures.

First the camera petition drive, where we had asked WMATA to install security camera at the Metro pathway has been quite successful. We’ve collected more than 200 signatures from the riders and nearby residents. The Mayor and Council will soon send that petition to the WMATA along with a few other requests, such as additional lights etc. An email from a Metro official suggests that they are not aware of such initiative, but will check further. ” …this time, I’m not aware as to whether WMATA is planning to place a camera(s) or additional lighting on the exterior of the Greenbelt station. I will inquire if these security measures are in the planning for station security enhancements.” – says the email.

The blue light phone was scheduled to be installed in last August, however it’s taking a bit more time. The good news is that the plan was to install such lights is tied up with Lackawanna St. streetsacpe work, which has already started. so let’s wait a little more, the lights should be there any time soon.

PG Police Offers Important Safety Tips

With the holiday season in full swing, the Prince George’s County Police Department is offering some general crime prevention tips to help remind residents of things they can do to reduce their chance of being a crime victim during this time of the year and to help citizens remain safe during the holiday shopping season.

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.

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.
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