Homicides and overall violent crime are down in Prince George’s County, Md., a relatively high crime area adjoining Washington, D.C., this year, despite an increase in rapes and carjackings, the Washington Post reports. There have been 3,688 violent crimes reported this year, down 8 percent from this time last year, although rapes are up 20 percent and carjackings are up 9 percent. The county has recorded 75 homicides, compared with 81 a year ago.
Police Chief Melvin High released most of the figures yesterday as he announced his retirement effective Aug. 31. County Executive Jack Johnson and Public Safety Director Vernon R. Herron called High’s tenure transformative and said he had restored a connection between the department and the public that had been strained, in part by allegations of excessive force. Johnson credited High, who took over the department in 2003, with helping the county navigate U.S. Justice Department oversight triggered by those complaints. Community leaders said High is a great listener, often willing to spend hours discussing issues with residents. Johnson and Herron stressed that during High’s watch, violent crime has declined overall for four straight years. At the same time, homicides have seesawed, peaking at a record 173 two years after he became chief a declining to 136 killings in 2006 and 144 last year.