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Baker: Police not keeping up with population

Thursday - 1/13/2011, 6:19pm  ET

Ask The Executive

Jan. 11, 2011- Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker discusses the violent start to the new year, foreclosures and the corruption investigation in the county.


Mark Segraves,
Paul D. Shinkman,

WASHINGTON -- The county executive of Prince George's County said Tuesday the number of local law enforcement officers has not risen at the same rate as the growing population -- a noticeable deficiency in the midst of a backlogged warrant system, and 11 murders in the county as many days of the new year.

While speaking on the "Ask the Executive" program with Mark Segraves, County Executive Rushern Baker pointed to the increased population as a prime motivator for recruiting and vetting new police officers.

The population has grown from roughly 80,000 to 90,000 in his almost 16 years representing the county, he says.

"We've got to keep those classes up," Baker said of the training academies for firefighters and police officers.

"Clearly Prince George's County, like others, is facing a deficit. We're going to make sacrifices to make sure we keep those classes up."

Monday night, Jan. 10, marked the 10th murder in the county since the new year began. Baker pointed Tuesday to the reduced homicide rate at the end of 2010. He says this recent spate is drug related, or warring "members of rival factions."

"Clearly we're concerned about it," he said. "The police chief is on top of it."

Interim Police Chief Mark Magaw announced a new action plan Monday, focused on reaching out to community and faith groups, and combining the efforts of law enforcement departments, including the county sheriff's office, a separate entity tasked with serving warrants.

Baker cited this new collaboration as one of the methods to stem the backlog in the sheriff's office warrant database, adding the "sheriff is doing the best he can with the budget constrictions there."

Baker indicated after the program that serving these warrants may help arrest suspects in the recent murders.

In case you missed any of the interview with Baker, check out our live blog here:

10:57 a.m., speaking about teacher salary and pensions:

We're going to do all we can in our administration to make sure there are no furloughs or firings of teachers for budgetary reasons. Our emphasis is on classroom teachers, not only that we pay them properly but give them the training and support they need.

We're going to provide the school board and school superintendent with the resources they need. Salary policy is a decision they have to make. I want to make sure we're not losing our teachers.

10:56 a.m., speaking about potential changes to Metro's governance:

I agree with the governors of Maryland and Virginia about changing the structure of the Board of Governors. We've got the most underutilized in terms of development Metro sites in the region.

I'm looking for someone who is not looking to do development projects when they leave there. What I want is someone who is there to work for the residents.

10:52 a.m., speaking about Jack Johnson and his wife, council member Leslie Johnson:

The legal process has to work itself out about whether Leslie Johnson should resign, I can't interject into the legal process.

My job is to work with the residents of District 6 to look at development projects in that area to make sure they're getting the process they need.

I just spoke with the council at the retreat they just had, and spoke with council member Johnson about issues in her district.

10:43 a.m., speaking about home foreclosures:

We're doing some, but we can do more. We have to pressure the state and federal government to help us.

Massachusetts and Chicago are looking at having the banks come in and negotiate with homeowners who are about to lose their home. We have to do that here.

We have one of the highest rates in the region. It's gone down, but we're still one of the highest in the nation.

10:41 a.m., speaking about speed cameras and photo enforcement at red lights:

We're looking at expanding that program.

My preference is to have mobile cameras.

My understanding is it's a private contractor. We're looking at the fees which they would collect, my understanding is they would collect a flat fee, not per ticket.

When I was in the General Assembly I was against the speed cameras, because I, too, thought it was just a revenue generator.

But I've seen the data and it does decrease auto accidents. It is a way of telling my children and other people out there to slow down.

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