Crime Reports and Alerts: How Much is Too Much?

The other day I received an email from a resident, much concerned about the recent string of robberies  in downtown College Park.

She writes: College Park is looking REALLY BAD on the news. I think the council’s #1 priority has to be stopping all the robberies!!! What do the contract police and UM police really do? I think the UM police should be kept off of Univ Blvd and Metz RD and spend their time in the Rte 1 Lakeland Area. I love CP, but the robberies are ridiculous!!!

I took the resident’s email for a brief discussion among my colleagues on the Council. It looks like in addition to the robbery incidents that the resident was referring to, the media had a number of coverage following the shooting death of two University of Maryland students.

Here is one report on the Washington Post that talks about how the recent crime emails and alerts are making residents and students nervous about the public safety situation in College Park. Here is the paper says:

Despite what students and their tuned-in parents think, crime at U-Md. has fallen in recent years, as it has on college campuses across the country. Some police officials blame the proliferation of systems that send out public safety alerts via e-mail, text and Twitter for fueling the false idea that universities are unsafe.

What the paper is saying is that more public information is available now more rapidly. If we get various alerts from different sources about the same few incidents it could appear that there were more incidents than actually occurred.

Contrary to what appears to be a very bad situation, the recent crime data does not quite support that. The crime rates in the city and the county are consistently going down, and as a whole this City is safer than before.

That said, I still think sending out accurate crime data to residents is a good thing to do. They provide good information to residents and often the residents take precautions in preventing them through programs like Neighborhood Watch. Leaving them in the dark on these vital crime data will only make situation worse.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.

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9 Comments to “Crime Reports and Alerts: How Much is Too Much?”

  1. By Clay Gump, February 22, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    I agree. The constant alerts do nothing but cause stress. Usually when I read about a robbery the first thing I check is the timing. Many times the crime occurs late night/early morning while the person was walking home alone from a bar/party.

  2. By brown a, February 23, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    Agree, but CP looks BAD!!! And PG looks WORSE!!! Doesn’t matter what time they occur they should NOT happen!! If I work off hours and want to take metro and walk home should I be scared in CP, absolutely!!!!!!
    That’s the way I feel and I’m sticking to it. I’ve lived in PG all my life, 60 years, lived in CP 30 years and I’m ready to move. Everyone asks me why I still live here and now I’m asking myself the same question.
    UM and Contract police need to spend more time in the areas where these crimes occur. Stop spending time on silly traffic stops.

  3. By brown a, February 24, 2013 @ 6:01 am

    Here we go again ….
    Shooting on route 1 this morning …. gheez!

  4. By Fazlul Kabir, February 24, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

    Mr. Brown, I Just spoke with police about today’s early morning incident. Unfortunately, one person died in the incident. Persons involved are not College Park residents or University of Maryland Students. Police is currently investigating the case. I will let you know once police provide me more details.

  5. By anonymous, February 24, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of bad suggestions about the public safety woes in College Park, but NOT disclosing the criminal activity in town – via alerts, emails or otherwise – because people think it makes the city look bad is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. Talk about missing the forest for the trees. If you don’t want to receive the crime alerts, you can tune them out or unsubscribe quite easily – out of sight, out of mind, right?

    Also, if what other people think impacts someone’s decision to live in this city to the point that they feel insecure in their decision AND are prompted to move, that’s pretty sad.

    It appears that crime happens in this city because of location, because of opportunity, and because a lot of College Park falls between the cracks of disjointed law enforcement units from the University of Maryland, Prince George’s County and even state police. Add a large, naive and vulnerable population that is often under the influence late at night in dark areas and it spells chronic disaster.

    So, here’s an idea: Let’s stop worrying about perception and let’s address the issue. We need a city police force. No excuses. Enough with the cameras, contract cops and patchwork deals with university police. Crime is the No. 1 issue in this city by miles and miles. So, either the city council moves to correct this issue once and for all, or I will be sure to vote and campaign against anyone who doesn’t provide a comprehensive solution to our public safety issues.

  6. By Fazlul Kabir, February 25, 2013 @ 8:06 am

    Hello, Thanks for your comments and suggestions. The Public Safety working group has recently decided to work on a number of long term initiatives to improve public safety in the City. The group is comprised of members of City Council, County Council, UMd and PG Police and led by Senator Jim Rosapepe. One of the long term goals of the group is to revisit the the study of establishing an independent City Police in College Park. As part of this committee, I will do my best to update s similar study that we did back in 2007. I will keep you all posted as we make progress. Thanks again.

  7. By brown a, February 25, 2013 @ 8:18 am

    Anonymous I agree with a lot of what you said, but not all.

    Not disclosing criminal activity as far as I’m concerned would be CRIMINAL. People should know what is going on in CP.

    It’s not exactly what other people think that is making me opt to leave the city, these people are concerend for my safety and at this point I am concerned for my safety also. When I feel I can no longer walk to stores when I’ve been a walker all my life then it’s time for a change. My friends and family have expressed their concerns for my safety since they know I live in CP and they know I walk the trails, the campus and in the city. Each person has to do what they feel is best for them, I don’t feel safe anymore and I am so sorry I feel this way in the city I once LOVED. I’m glad I have people who care about me, those people always have a key part in the decisions I make. I’m sorry for you Anonymous that you don’t have that in your life.

    I don’t agree about a CP Police Force, I don’t think it would help, more wasted $, PG and CP waste enough $ already. The police we have now should patrol the areas that need patrolled and stop making idiotic traffic stops on Univ Blvd, Metz Rd and other places. Maybe have more police at night and less during daylight, WOW what a unique idea.


  8. By anonymous, February 27, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

    Good luck wherever you’re headed! I’m sure wherever that is, it will be 100 percent crime free and your loved ones will be there for you!

  9. By brown a, March 2, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

    Thank You Anonymous! That’s where I’m heading, closer to my loved ones. House on market 🙂