We Must Protect Our Children

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

We Must Protect Our Children

Dear Prince Georgians:

As you may have heard, Monday I held a press conference, in part, to discuss the continued rise in violent crime in Prince George’s being committed by young people. I announced that we will be enforcing an existing curfew law for minors beginning this Friday, September 9, for at least 30 days. I want to be clear that this decision was made, first and foremost, to protect our children, because holding parents and family members accountable ultimately protects our children.

The curfew will apply to youth under the age of 17 beginning this Friday, September 9. Unless an exception applies, those youth must be home between the hours of 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM Sunday through Thursday, and 11:59 PM and 5:00 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. The curfew will remain in place for at least 30 days.

There are several steps of enforcement, however, officers will be using this opportunity as a means to educate the public and our youth about the curfew hours and will subsequently issue a warning, and a parent or guardian will be notified. If a parent doesn’t respond or fails to respond regarding their child, the child will be released to the Department of Social Services. Parents and owners of establishments who allow youth to remain on premises during times where they should be at home, will first receive a warning, and will then face fines including $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses.

We will also be providing additional wraparound services and resources for youth as this curfew goes into effect. We will share an update later this week that has information on those resources and additional information on the curfew.

We did not get to this point overnight, and events from this past weekend and the past few weeks have put our County at a critical juncture. We have seen a wave of crime this summer across the region and here in Prince George’s. In fact, the month of August was the deadliest month in Prince George’s County’s history.

Right now, we need a cooling off period, so we can protect our children and hold parents accountable. This is similar to when someone experiences a medical emergency, and an ambulance shows up. Paramedics will clear the scene, so they can focus on the person experiencing a medical emergency and work to care for them.

98% of our kids are doing the right thing, and we know they will adhere to this law and go inside. What we are trying to do is clear the scene and reach the other 2% of kids, and their parents and families, in a new way so we can get to the root cause of what is going on and effectively address this emergency.

We have had over 350 carjackings this year, which is a 52% increase over last year. We are finding that each year we have more carjackings, and each year we arrest more juveniles. Juvenile arrests have more than doubled from last year, with our officers arresting 430 kids. Of the 84 juveniles arrested for carjackings so far this year, 55 of those juveniles have prior offenses, 34 had prior gun or violent crimes charges and half of those were under 15-years old.

People have asked me what I have been doing to address the rise in violent crime, and what I can tell you is this government has been doing everything in its power to tackle this issue. Over the past year, I have held multiple press conferences, and even a crime summit in April, and promised to put the entire force of this government behind this issue. I promised that we would put forward every resource we had to combat the rise in violent crime and invest in our youth, who need to be protected.

I promised that every child who applied for a job would get one this summer through our Summer Youth Enrichment Program. We did just that and employed over 6,000 youth between the ages of 14 and 22 this summer. I promised that each child who applied for a position in the Alsobrooks Summer Passport Experience would have an opportunity to receive enrichment in dozens of fields. We did just that and gave those opportunities to over 1,000 youth this summer.

We recognized that mental health issues were driving some of the crime we had been experiencing, among both our youth and adults. So, we opened a new mental health and addition care facility this year, the first of its kind in the County, and we have plans to further expand mental health services in the County.

We also started the Hope in Action program, with over a dozen non-profit partners as part of our Hope Collective providing wraparound services to youth and young adults, to include mental health services, after-school programming, mentoring, re-entry services, and more. We are sparing no expense or resource to address the issue of violent crime in our County.

We have seen some progress in our efforts. Homicides are actually down year to date. However, we are still seeing concerning levels of crime, especially among our youth. We have armed and dangerous children out at 3:00 and 4:00 AM committing crimes. No summer job or government program is going to help that. No amount of resources we throw at our kids is going to fix that, so we are now using an additional tool to keep our children safe.

Ultimately, we have an accountability problem in this County. Somebody has got to take responsibility for these armed and dangerous children, and it’s not just the police or this government. We need to protect our children, while also holding parents and family members accountable, because children under 17 are not legally responsible for themselves.

As County Executive, my job is to create and fund the programs we have been working on to tackle this issue, and to fund our police department and ensure they are doing their jobs well. I am just one piece of a much larger system. The criminal justice system is made up of the police who arrest, the prosecutor who is the gatekeeper for the criminal justice system to determine who to hold accountable and what to charge, and the courts, that in many instances makes the final determination on accountability.  

In short, there is a whole system at play, which starts with the police, and ends with the courts and prosecution. What’s clear to us is that something is not working.

This government has been doing its part, and we will continue to do so and spare no resource to combat violent crime. However, the truth of the matter is, we need everybody working to protect our children. We can throw every resource at our disposal at this problem, but until people start being held accountable, we are not fully going to be able to tackle this issue in our community.

Yours in service,

Angela Alsobrooks

Prince George’s County Executive