County Executive Rushern Baker's new Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative builds on the principles used by the county's police department last year during a summer crime initiative that helped quell violence in five communities.
In 2011, Police Chief Mark Magaw met weekly with county officials to tell them about problems the department witnessed. Now the mandate from the county executive's office is for other agencies to take action on those issues and fix the county's problems.
Magaw and other officials said it's a common-sense approach that they have rarely seen.
"Before agencies weren't communicating with each other, they were in a silo. They were working hard, but the police department was doing their job kind of alone. Fire was doing the same thing," said Brad Seamon, the county's chief administrative officer. "All we're saying now is talk to each other. It's really not that complicated."
Baker hopes the consolidated efforts of more than 20 county agencies and organizations in six neighborhoods -- Langley Park, Kentland, Hillcrest Heights, Glassmanor, Bladensburg and Suitland -- will result in not just lower crime rates, but higher property values and income levels, better school test scores, and lower foreclosure rates.
The neighborhoods were chosen primarily for their high crime rates, which police officials said are major contributors to Prince George's higher countywide crime rates.
Every agency and department has a representative assigned to one of the six areas, forming teams of employees who will be led by top members of Baker's administration.
No new funds have been allocated to fuel the program. Instead, departments have been instructed to divert all available discretionary resources to the six neighborhoods.
"This is the new way Prince George's County's government will behave. This is the new reality," Baker said. "We're asking everybody to change the way they've been doing their jobs."
The summer crime initiative run by police in 2011 -- which reduced overall crime by 9 percent, even as the county experienced a higher-than-average homicide rate -- will reboot again this year, but within the scope of the new neighborhood initiative.
And unlike with the summer initiative, there's no timeline for Baker's latest proposal -- the neighborhood initiative will continue to run while he is in office, Baker said.