EDITOR’S NOTE with UPDATE, Sept. 9, 5:08 p.m. — At the news conference announcing the curfew enforcement, the county executive said that the curfew applied to children younger than 17. Prince George’s County corrected that to say that the curfew applies to children who are 16 and younger. The original story has been updated to reflect the age change.
PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — At a news conference Monday, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said that curfew enforcement would be used to address a spike in gun violence, noting that August was the “deadliest month” in Prince George’s County’s history.
“Something is not working,” Alsobrooks stated, saying that police are arresting and rearresting the same people for violent crimes.
Police Chief Malik Aziz was among those who joined Alsobrooks. The curfew, which goes into effect the weekend of Sept. 9, applies to children who are 16 and younger, unless there is an acceptable exception. Alsobrooks explained the curfew already was on the books in Maryland, but that stricter enforcement of it would begin. The hours of the daily curfew are:
- 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday
- 11:59 p.m. to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Alsobrooks said the curfew would be in place for at least 30 days.
If children under the age of 17 are out past curfew, they have to be accompanied by an adult. Alsobrooks said there are several steps of enforcement, beginning with a warning.
If a parent doesn’t respond when a child breaks curfew, the child will be released to social services.
Parents will be fined $50 to $250 for offenses committed by their children.
Young people, in particular, have been responsible for or the victims of many of the violent crimes involving guns in Prince George’s County recently.
As just one example, two days before the news conference, people opened fire inside a 7-Eleven in Capitol Heights, killing a 15-year-old boy from Washington, D.C. Another 15-year-old boy was hurt, and two other people were injured.
In terms of violent crime, Alsobrooks said that there have been more than 350 carjackings in the county since the beginning of the year, representing an increase of 52% in that particular crime when compared to 2021. Alsobrooks added that the total number of carjackings in 2019 was 91.
Of the 61 adults arrested for carjackings this year, Alsobrooks said 45 had prior arrests. Forty had prior arrests for violent crime or gun possession. Nine already had been picked up for carjacking.
“It’s clear that the problem is what happens after the arrest, or, in our case, what doesn’t happen,” Alsobrooks offered.
The county executive said that police officers have arrested an “eye-popping” 430 children this year.
Of the 84 children arrested for carjackings as of Monday, 55 had prior offenses. Half of those arrested were younger than 15.
“Now, we can sit here, and we can talk statistics all day long, but I want to reiterate that these are children committing these crimes, targeting other children and targeting adults, armed and dangerous children,” said Alsobrooks. “Those are two very, very difficult words for me to even put together: ‘armed’ and ‘dangerous’ children.”
Alsobrooks said despite the abundance of programs and resources available to help children, the fact remains that the government, alone, cannot solve the problem when it comes to violence among young people.
The county executive said, “…I am going to just put it very blunt: somebody has got to take responsibility for these armed and dangerous children, and it’s not just the police and not just the government.”
Alsobrooks continued, “I know this isn’t the popular thing to say, but the truth of the matter is, it’s a fair question: where are their parents? Where are the aunties? Where are the uncles and other family members who are responsible for them?”
Alsobrooks said she was requesting an emergency meeting with the department of juvenile services and that she and other county employees would continue to work collaboratively with the court system to determine how children who commit crime are being held accountable.
Alsobrooks explained she wants the courts and department of juvenile services to release numbers on outstanding cases and dispositions. She and others want prosecutors to release data on its pending cases and dispositions, and they want the police department to publish its arrest numbers on a public dashboard.
“We need our entire criminal justice system to act in full public transparency so that we can tackle this issue together,” Alsobrooks stated.
Most parents DC News Now spoke to are cautiously optimistic the curfew will work.
“That way the parents don’t have to worry, they know the children are in the house safely. When you hear about children getting shot, all that’s going on, you panic as soon as the child leaves the house,” said Tammy Steiner. “At least now, they won’t be afraid, they won’t be blowing their children’s phones up, and waiting and wondering how are they going to get home. They know now they have to be home at a certain time.”