Crime-Heavy County Near Baltimore On Edge After Police Overtime Cuts

Posted: Jun 12, 2015 12:15 PM

Prince George's County, Maryland, is a 45 minutes’ drive from Baltimore, where recent protests rocked the city. Residents angry over the mysterious death of Freddie Gray engaged in violent demonstrations in late April, burning down buildings, destroying police cars and throwing rocks at officers. It was yet the latest example of racial tension between citizens and police. Following the fiery standoff, the city succumbed to residents’ wishes and slashed their police force, a decision for which they paid a heavy price.

There were 23 homicides and 39 nonfatal shootings in Baltimore in May 2014. Through 29 days of May 2015, there were 42 homicides and 104 nonfatal shootings. Gulp.

After the staggering crime spree, citizens suddenly had a change of heart. You’d think the rest of Maryland would take note.

Unless you're Prince George’s County.

Learning nothing from the failed experiment in Baltimore, Prince George’s County has announced overtime cuts for its police force. Although cutting overtime is a common practice at the end of every fiscal year, it is especially unwelcome in light of the recent unrest. NBC 4 Washington has the report.

Summer is the worst time for these overtime cuts, residents warned. Reporter Molette Green spoke to one young man who was playing basketball in the middle of the day, saying he needed a job because he just trying to “stay out of trouble.”

“That’s the worry for some residents, Green said. “Idle time over the summer could lead to a spike in crime.”

Resident Maria Judkins told NBC 4 that there are a lot of break ins in her area and she wants more cops on the street.

"There's not enough – and if there were more on bikes and undercover cars, it would help."

Another community member agreed:

"I truly think the crime rate would go up, " he said. "I think a lot of things would happen."

The overtime pay cut was a budget matter, according to police.

I live in the Washington, DC area, so I can tell you firsthand that Prince George’s County is in the news almost every week – and not for a good reason. Although the crime rate has improved in recent years, there's a lot of work to be done. I doubt cutting police hours will be beneficial.

Residents already concerned about neighborhood safety deserve to know police are nearby. The last thing they need is a Baltimore repeat.