PRINCE GEORGE'S CO., MD (WUSA9) - With a recent spike in violence in Prince George's County, the police chief is ordering a surge in officers on the streets. The entire department is now required to work 12-hour shifts to try to stop the violence.
In the past week, nine people have been murdered in Prince George's County.
"It is not about a zero tolerance enforcement approach," said Prince George's Police Chief Hank Stawinski. "It's about having a much greater presence in the streets, in the communities and trying to bring that tension level down."
The number of homicides in 2017 is approaching the level of violence from the previous year, according to figures supplied by the police department.
An early Tuesday morning shooting in the Forestville area brought the count to 49 murders in 2017. Just two days before, two people were shot in an alley behind a Popeye's restaurant in Suitland. By the same date last year, the number was 50.
"We are essentially even and what I didn't want was this community to lose confidence in this institution to protect them when we do see disorder turning into violence and that's why I chose to act," Stawinksi said.
By far, the most violent section of the county is Police District 3, which includes the communities of Capitol Heights, District Heights and Suitland. Sixteen murders have been recorded in District 3 so far this year. That is the same number as in 2016 during the same period.
Homicides have risen in Police District 7, which includes the south-county communities of Fort Washington and Accokeek. There have been three murders in District 7 this year, compared to one murder during the same period in 2016.
The most dramatic drop in homicides year-to-date has occurred in Police District 4, which includes the communities of Oxon Hill and Temple Hills. Eleven homicides were reported in that section of the county in the first six months of 2016, compared to six so far in 2017.
Between 2011 and 2014, Prince George's Co. saw a record decline of 40 percent in violent crime and homicide. The numbers began creeping upward in 2015, but are still far below the level of violence seen in the early 2000's and late 1990's when more than 100 murders were tallied annually.
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