On the first full day of summer, Prince George’s County officials announced two initiatives to keep youth busy and combat violent crime.
For the next few months, countywide activities will include officers from the police department’s COPS [Community Oriented Policing Service] unit holding regular meetings with community leaders, local sponsorship of youth tennis and soccer clinics and teenagers learning about safe driving with representatives from State Farm and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
“Reversing a rise in crime requires more than just police presence,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Monday, June 21 during a virtual town hall with Police Chief Malik Aziz. “It requires that we provide the basic necessities that residents need, especially after a time like this [from COVID-19].”
One of the programs. Summer Passport Experience, counts as a first-time county initiative that will allow teenagers ages 12 to 18 to choose two activities from among three categories: education, entrepreneurship and experience.
A few of the locations and activities include:
- Brookie Girl at National Harbor will provide three sessions for those ages 14 to 16 to learn how to run and own a business.
- Jacob’s Ladder Youth Foundation and The Home Team Realty Group will host financial literacy and business classes in Fort Washington the week of July 19 and week of Aug. 9 for those ages 15 to 18.
- Youth ages 12 to 16 chosen will receive a free ticket to the UniverSoul Circus on July 1 at National Harbor.
An estimated 1,300 youth will be picked for at least two activities with a few scheduled to begin next week but the majority begin in July with others kicking off in August.
Each youth pays for a $20 passport at https://pgcsummerpassortexp.eventbrite.com/ but must register by 5 p.m. Friday, June 25.
Those chosen will pick up their passports, T-shirts and program bracelet Monday, Jun 28 at the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover. Youth who still haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine can receive one while at the center.
The police department will manage “Operation Heat Wave” through Sept. 7 to prevent crime in targeted areas where carjackings, burglaries and robberies have become prevalent. Those communities include: Capitol Heights, Langley Park/Lewisdale, Riverdale, Suitland, Temple Hills and other areas “leading into the District of Columbia.”
Aziz, who began his role as police chief last month, said more than 13,000 crimes occurred in the county last year.
About seven fatal shootings occurred in the county this month through Friday, June 18, according to police data.
Besides fighting violent crime, the police department will also organize a program called Seniors and Law Enforcement Together, or SALT. The goal will be to educate residents 55 and older, caregivers and family members on financial scams.
More than 1,000 book bags with school supplies will be provided for youth who attend a back-to-school event. A specific date hasn’t been determined but the first day of school in Prince George’s will be Sept. 8.
The nucleus for both summer programs remains community engagement with police, local merchants and leaders from nonprofit organizations.
“My motto has always been, ‘No one gets a pass during the summer. Everyone fights crime,’” Aziz said. “The best ideas that we have can come from anywhere [but] usually they come from people who have their feet on the ground.”