12 Homicides in 12 Days = The Path to Greatness?
Today marks 12 homicides in the first 12 days of 2011 for Prince George’s County. Much has already been said about it, from the Council press release stating that additional resources are being sought, to County Executive Baker stating to WTOP that most are drug-related and we need more officers on the street to deal with it, and Interim Police Chief Mark Magaw telling residents that the three arrests they have already made should “bring some calm to the public.”
Well, if you’re a resident of Prince George’s County, especially if you live inside the Beltway where most of the homicides have occurred, I don’t think you feel calm, safe, or confident in the County’s ability to protect you right now. Even if most incidents are drug-related, that doesn’t really make residents feel secure because, at any moment, it’s always possible an innocent person could be caught in the crossfire. Furthermore, to brush off the homicides as drug-related ignores the reality that the reason the County suffers from this crime in the first place is because criminals know they can get away with murder here, right? The homicides are not just statistics, they really affect economic development, schools, and businesses here in the County, regardless of who was murdered and the reasons behind it.
County Executive Baker promised in his “Pledge for Prince George’s County” that he would “strengthen laws, procedures, and policies and collaborate with each branch of the criminal justic system, so that the definitive message is that Prince George’s County does not tolerate violence.” The big problem with his pledge, like most of the work he has done so far as County Executive, relies upon “legislating” your way to change. While Baker might have been a great legislator in the General Assembly, his experience may not translate to being a great executive of a large urban county. You can’t fight crime with legislation. You have to fight crime by standing up to it and putting qualified cops on the beat to fight it. You can’t just collaborate with the community, you must engage them to work together to confront and stop criminals within our own neighborhoods. We all have to do the hard work to stop the violence, so I’m not placing the blame on Baker alone. However, he probably needs to get out of his suit and hit the police beat with the cops to get a real sense of what’s going on and ask the community personally to get involved.
Baker stated that he was elected to “make a good County great” and his inaugural theme was “The Path to Greatness.” I’m not so sure anybody who lives here feels we are headed in the that direction, or even deserve to be called “good” right now. It’s going to take a lot of work from every one of us to get it turned around.