Thank you for hosting all of us here. It's gorgeous here in Prince George's County. I thank you all for being here.
County Executive Johnson, thank you so much for your leadership. Thank you for being in the arena; thank you for making the changes in leadership that allowed us to forge these partnerships and save lives and make Prince George's County a better and safer place for all.
We also today are gathered in front of the Police Memorial that stands behind us. This week, people throughout the county are honoring the service of sacrifice of law enforcement. I know just this year we lost Thomas P. Jensen, and Corporal Mark Gamble. It is a very humbling honor therefore to stand in front of the men and women of the Prince George's County Police Department who lay their lives on the line everyday and in order to make our neighborhoods safer. I think that there is no higher calling than being a police officer. I want to thank Chief Roberto Hylton, President Vince Canales, Vice President Dean Jones and all the Officers and command staff that are here today.
One of the most sacred duties that any of us have in elected office is to protect the public. One of the most powerful beliefs we share for all of the diversity of our State, is our belief in the dignity of every individual. Therefore, our quality of life, we know, is defined by the amount of public safety we have on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
That's why today's announcement is such a very positive one for us. In the toughest of times, together, we have forged a partnership between the men and women of State's Attorney Glen Ivey's office, the men and women of U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein's office, the men and women of law enforcement, men and women represented in state law enforcement by Coronel Sheraton, by Secretary Maynard, and by Secretary Devour.
The most important things we accomplish are only accomplished when we come together in partnership toward that shared goal of saving lives and that's why, as the County Executive said, it's great to be able to point to the reality of schools going up and crime coming down.
Lowest Violent Crime Rate Since 1975
I am very very pleased to be able to announce that thanks to the hard-won gains of officers of Prince George's County and every other county in Maryland, Maryland has reduced violent crime to its lowest rate since 1975.
There was a 5% reduction last year in violent crime. We reduced homicides 12%, and in the last three years, we achieved the steepest three year reduction in homicides since the 1970s.
Together with law enforcement -- local, state, and federal -- we drove down automobile theft nearly 23%. I especially want to thank Judge Nicols who has been a leader on this issue. In Prince Georges County to be able to reduce auto theft by more than 40% is a real big deal. So thank you.
Prince George's County is doing some remarkable things. Delivering life saving results, driving violent crime down to its lowest levels in 30 years (as the County Executive said); overall crime down to its lowest rate since 1975; auto theft down so dramatically,
Crime Fighting Partnerships
None of this happens by chance, all of it happens by partnerships. And I wanted to outline some of the initiatives that we have underway. In the toughest of times we have actually been able to improve. And why is it? It's because of the things we are doing today and I just wanted to touch on a few of them:
One is the Violence Prevention Initiative, VPI. We are doing a much better job than we ever have to zero in on the most dangerous predators that are released back into our neighborhoods on parole and probation and then partnering with local law enforcement to put them back in jail the first time they violate the terms of their parole or probation, before they can murder again. That's been a huge success.
Secondly, we inherited a huge backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples and by working through that backlog and getting that information into the database, in 2009 we were able together to arrest 103 murderers, rapists, and other criminals who otherwise would still be walking our streets.
Thirdly, modern technology is allowing us to combine, law enforcement databases that used to be these isolated silos that you needed a separate pass code to access -- or you needed to know someone to be able to get into them. We have combined all this information into our Public Safety Dashboard which connects more than 100 agencies -- and we're receiving 25,000 to 40,000 hits per day.
Fourthly, we have been able to forward advanced technology tag readers to local law enforcement so they can identify a license plate -- almost like a checker at a grocery store does -- just by scanning it from afar, and they are able to immediately match that with the stolen autos that are in the central database.
Fifth, through the Capitol Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, we have posted over a thousand warrants to help make our neighborhoods safer in the DC metropolitan area. I did say DC metropolitan because we are sharing more information now on both sides of the District and Maryland border. So if someone on a Maryland probation does something to violate them in DC then DC notifies us right away. That never ever happened before. That's happening now because of our partnerships.
And finally, before I turn it over to our U.S. Attorney, our Regional Gun Task Force. Our Regional Gun Task Force where state and local police, together, were able to seize 217 guns last year which produced 77 arrests for illegal trafficking of guns, to keep them out of the hands of the hit men and the drug enforcers.
All of us can see the day when our State will move out of the dubious distinction of being one of the ten most violent states in America. But we know if we continue to make progress our children will have hope of living in a state that is one of the top ten safest states.
I have the honor now to be able to introduce our U.S. Attorney for Maryland. He is a U.S. Attorney who has taken the power and authority granted to him by the Obama Administration to actually put the federal government in partnership with local and state law enforcement to take violent gun offenders off our streets. In the past, there was a lot of push back. A lot of U.S. Attorneys didn't like to take these cases federally, but we have a State Attorney who actually has the United States Attorney's Office on the side of neighborhood and public safety and has been using his prosecutorial authority to make our neighbors a safer Maryland so please welcome an invaluable partner, Rod Rosenstein.