Capital digest

June 08, 2005

With the homicide rate in Prince George's County running 30 percent higher than a year ago, police officials plan to stick with the crime-fighting strategies they have in place.

"We've added more people to our violent-crimes task force," police spokeswoman Barbara Hamm said yesterday in Bowie. The unit, formed in January, has 40 members whose assignments are selected based on daily crime data and police intelligence reports.

"They've made several arrests and conducted witness interviews connected to other cases," Hamm said.

As of yesterday, police had reported 73 homicides in the county this year, compared with 56 at this time in 2004.

Three shootings over the past week have been particularly alarming. Stacey Seaton, 17 and pregnant, was found dead in Bowie on June 1. Another teenage girl was wounded by a bullet to the back during a drive-by shooting Saturday in Largo. And Sunday, a shootout occurred on the parking lot of the Six Flags America theme park, also in Largo, injuring one adult.

Officials in Prince George's and in the District of Columbia are eager to restart a cross-border crime-fighting initiative. It is similar to past efforts in which officers from both departments are deputized by the federal government, enabling them to respond to and investigate crimes in either jurisdiction.

Officials are waiting for word from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on how to proceed. The joint operation would be conducted under the ATF's federal law enforcement authorizations, officials said.

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