Officials from D.C. and neighboring Prince George’s County announced Wednesday a joint effort to combat the rise of carjackings in the region.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III joined Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and her police chief, Malik Aziz, for news conference announcing the partnership at the Marvin Gaye Park in northeast Washington.
“We are focused, in both jurisdictions, on collaborating to make our communities safer for all people,” Bowser said. “And we are particularly focused on how we reach our young people — how we engage young people so they don’t get involved in violent activity, how we hold them accountable when they do, and how we get them on a more productive and positive path forward.
“This is not just a regional effort between government and police departments, it’s about bringing our communities together so that we can keep each other safe and give everyone, regardless of which neighborhood or jurisdiction you live in, the opportunity to thrive,” the mayor said.
Both the District and Prince George’s have problems with youths committing carjackings. In 2021, the youth made up 85 of the 132 people arrested in the District for carjacking while in Prince George’s, 86 out of the 152 arrested consisted of young people.
The mayor said many of the young carjackers cross the District-Prince George’s County borders to commit their crimes. She said the city offers a robust program of activities that can distract youth from crime such as sports, after-school programming and employment opportunities.
Alsobrooks said young carjackers are angry and traumatized themselves.
“Hurt people hurt people,” Alsobrooks said, adding that everyone needs to “step up” to stop the rash of carjackings.
“We have a number of programs in the county where we can help our youth,” the county executive said. “We have diversion and re-entry programs. The Rev. Tony Lee has a program, Hope in Action, designed to help young people and I have a summer passport program that helps youth to explore new ideas and possibilities. People need to step up because this must end.”
Contee said the District’s carjacking unit, which he formed in February 2021, will be expanded with more resources and a greater focus on curtailing the incidents. He said part of that expansion includes collaborating with area jurisdictions on the problem and posting more Metropolitan Police Department officers on the D.C.-Prince George’s border.
“Last year, there were 456 carjackings in the city,” Contee said. “We have to hold people accountable for their actions. We are finding that it is the same kids over and over. We have to put a stop to this. Playtime is over.”
Aziz said in 2021, 393 carjackings occurred. He said arresting people won’t solve the problem entirely.
“We can resolve these issues now by working with the city and their police department,” he said.
Aziz said municipalities within the county also are a part of the effort, “but we must get the information out to those officers because they play such a vital role in this.”