Just a few years ago, officials in Prince George’s County were touting the fact that efforts to improve safety had resulted in the fourth straight year of crime statistics declining. County Executive Rushern Baker III attributed the results to the ongoing support from then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley along with the County’s Transforming Neighborhood Initiative — designed to improve safety by providing government and social services to six key communities along with a greater focus on policing.
But clearly something has gone afoul as a recent string of violent crimes has resulted in 10 deaths in just over a month.
The stories behind these deaths can only be described as heartbreaking including one County family who must face the unimaginable pain and burden of burying 18-year-old Tyrek Walker, shot and killed several days ago in front of a Suitland apartment building by unknown assailants — four years after Tyrek’s 15-year-old brother Charles lost his life because he refused to relinquish a pair of shoes.
Police Chief Hank Stawinski has placed his department on notice, increasing shifts to 12-hour periods effective immediately, but will it be enough? One has to wonder if there’s something in the air or in the water reverberating within the entire county where anger, greed, frustration and desperation — ultimately, the lack of respect for human life — have all reached a boiling point and caused the uptick in crime. Whatever the cause, time is of the essence.
The solution, we know, will not be found without resolute determination by every resident, every police officer, every politician, preacher and teacher. Increasing the shifts of those within the police department serves as a good first step. But let’s be clear, violent crime increases when the community remains silent. The entire community must become more proactive — serving as the eyes and ears of law enforcement officials.
As for the ridiculous notion that “snitching” is anathema to being a “down” member of the Black community, put yourself in the shoes of the family of Charles and Tyrek Walker. Then decide.