Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (center), along with Police Chief Hank Stawinski (left), speaks with reporters July 12 after a groundbreaking ceremony for a new public safety firearm and tactical training complex in Upper Marlboro. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (center), along with Police Chief Hank Stawinski (left), speaks with reporters July 12 after a groundbreaking ceremony for a new public safety firearm and tactical training complex in Upper Marlboro. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski announced Wednesday that officers will temporarily work 12-hour shifts after the county experienced 12 homicides in 11 days, including four over the weekend.

Stawinski, who said the changes will take effect immediately, made the announcement after county officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday to build a new public safety firearm and tactical training complex in Upper Marlboro.

“Disputes that used to result in shooting matches, or people shoving each other are devolving into people pulling out guns,” Stawinski said. “This is a measured and temporary response that will provide officers to diffuse these situations more rapidly and prevent this from continuing. We will move back to normal operations quickly.”

In one case Saturday, Ronald Pickney, 65, was killed at a Bowie home after a dispute with his stepson, Navar Beverly, 37, who posted a selfie with the body on social media.

Despite the recent uptick, Stawinski and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III reiterated homicides and overall crime remains low in the county compared to last year.

“We know the community has gotten safer, but unless people feel that way it doesn’t mean anything,” Baker said. “That’s why the changes the chief has made is important. We want people to know that not only do we want them to feel safe, [but] we want them to actually be safe.”

Public safety officials said the new training center on a 132-acre tract in Upper Marlboro will help them diffuse and solve crimes even better.

The complex will house a 140,000-square-foot building with classrooms, offices and firearms ranges. Officers will conduct training simulations inside a one-story house, two-story duplex with a basement, three-story apartment, a small strip mall and a bank.

Besides officers from the county police department, personnel from the Department of Corrections, Fire Marshal’s office, Sheriff’s Department, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Police and municipal police departments will also receive training.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (center) and other county dignitaries break ground on a new public safety firearm and tactical training complex in Upper Marlboro during a July 12 ceremony. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The Department of Corrections Training Academy currently on the property would be demolished next year during construction.

Mark Magaw, the county’s head of public safety and former police chief, called the $46 million investment to construct complex and other public safety resources Baker has committed in his administration “unprecedented.”

Sheriff Melvin High said the new complex ensures novice and experience personnel not only learn 21st century technology, but also learn restraint in dire situations.

“This is the beginning of a new era in preparing this for Prince George’s County,” he said. “With greater practice and training, officers are better prepared to interpret and approach threats ensuring the safest response for … the community they serve.”

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