Law and Border: Crime on Both Sides of Line Is Chiefs’ Con­cern

The Washington Post Sunday - - Close To Home - — Melvin C. High Lan­dover — Cathy L. Lanier Wash­ing­ton Melvin High is chief of the Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice De­part­ment. Cathy Lanier is chief of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice De­part­ment in Wash­ing­ton.

To crim­i­nals, ju­ris­dic­tional borders mean vir­tu­ally noth­ing. They com­mit crimes where it suits them best. To po­lice of­fi­cers, though, the bound­ary be­tween the Dis­trict of Columbia and Prince Ge­orge’s County has sig­nif­i­cance. It is the line of de­mar­ca­tion of po­lice author­ity, and it can im­pede law en­force­ment.

Crim­i­nals take ad­van­tage of the de­lin­eation, op­er­at­ing with im­punity along the border, com­mit­ting crimes, cre­at­ing dis­or­der and avoid­ing ap­pre­hen­sion. It has to stop.

That is why, ear­lier this month, the two of us reded­i­cated our­selves and our de­part­ments to a spirit of co­op­er­a­tion.

Mem­bers of the Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice De­part­ment and the Metropoli­tan Po-

K lice De­part­ment met to dis­cuss in de­tail our mu­tual crime con­cerns, crim­i­nal intelligence data shar­ing and joint strate­gies to ad­dress border-re­lated crime. Al­though of­fi­cers and de­tec­tives in our de­part­ments col­lab­o­rate reg­u­larly on an in­for­mal ba­sis, this ses­sion — led by us — was more for­mal and fo­cused, and it in­cluded key of­fi­cials from pa­trol, homi­cide, nar­cotics, stolen auto, spe­cial op­er­a­tions, intelligence, foren­sics and crime-map­ping units.

We dis­cussed track­ing the cross-border use of firearms us­ing foren­sic ev­i­dence; crim­i­nals’ use of au­to­mo­biles — of­ten stolen — trav­el­ing be­tween the ju­ris­dic­tions; dru­gre­lated crime; se­rial crimes and se­rial crim­i­nals; and sus­pects of in­ter­est to both depart- ments. Dis­trict com­man­ders briefed their Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ter­parts, and vice versa. At the end of the day it was ap­par­ent that, if we are to achieve safer border com­mu­ni­ties, we must col­lab­o­rate on all op­er­a­tional lev­els.

We are com­mit­ted to rein­vig­o­rat­ing the ini­tia­tive that al­lows Prince Ge­orge’s and D.C. po­lice of­fi­cers to cross borders un­der a dep­u­ti­za­tion process fa­cil­i­tated by the U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice. Based on data anal­y­sis and intelligence gath­er­ing, we will in­crease the num­ber of of­fi­cers from each ju­ris­dic­tion pa­trolling to­gether and the fre­quency of those pa­trols. We will en­sure that de­tec­tives — homi­cide and nar­cotics — meet reg­u­larly to ex­change in­for­ma­tion and as­sist each other in in­ves­ti­ga­tions. And we will work to­gether with fed­eral law en­force­ment part­ners to make this col­lab­o­ra­tion suc­cess­ful.

The good news is that, be­cause re­sources are avail­able, this en­deavor should not add much if any ex­pense, and it should be up and run­ning in time to stem tra­di­tional warmweather crime in­creases.

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