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Police commander implores residents to be vigilant against crime

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Published on: Wednesday, February 06, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Has your home been burglarized in 2013?

There’s a strong chance it was your neighbor who robbed you — or, at least, someone in your community.

Newly promoted District VI Commander Raphael Grant addressed more than 40 Prince George’s residents Jan. 9 at the Clarion Hotel in Oxon Hill. He wants to empower the community in order to stem the spike in crime in the early year.

“We can’t do this job by ourselves,” Grant said. “We need your eyes out there, we need your ears out there.”

The majority of the attendees of the bi-weekly Community Coffee Roundtable event that convenes two Wednesdays a month between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., are retirees — a strong ally group in the fight against county street crime. Some raised their hands to talk about a spate of vandalism incidents in the Apple Grove neighborhood. Others talked about large groups of loiterers, clogging walkways to apartments, preventing other tenants from passing by in Oxon Hill.

“If you see four or five guys loitering on your corner, next thing you know, they might see something in a car and say ‘let’s break into the window and take that,’” Grant said.

The biggest crime spike Prince George’s County Police Department is seeing this year, so far, are with people stealing items from cars at gas stations. Drivers who are in a rush have a tendency to leave their cars running while standing outside to fill them with gas. With the door likely unlocked, this leaves most drivers vulnerable to thieves opening the passenger door and stealing the car.

Still, other residents spoke of more persistent problems in their communities that need more police attention.

“Good Hope Avenue is where we still have the ladies of the night still practicing,” said Temple Hills resident Charles Pate. “We don’t want this to become a place where we know you can find a prostitute.”

Pate said female prostitutes approach and proposition his friends who try to pass by on their way to the Naylor Road Metro Station or the store.

In his frustration with the problem of prostitution in his area, Pate decided to attend the Community Coffee Roundtable. In doing that, he took an active role in policing his own community. But some are unaware of how to effectively prevent, spot or report criminal activity.

As Grant capped off the morning event, he implored residents to take part in the Prince George’s Citizen’s Police Academy, a 13-week program held every Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. and gives 10 civilians, in all six police districts, a crash course on the day-to-day duties of a police officer.

“We teach you about traffic law, criminal law,” Grant said. “It really helps you out to understand why we do what we do.”

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