Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sheriff High Says Agency Laid Solid Foundation in 2011

Upper Marlboro, MD… Prince George’s County Sheriff Melvin C. High said the agency laid a solid foundation last year which will help it continue to make progress going forward. High said the agency’s key accomplishments address commitments he made early in his administration, effective deployment of personnel and a focus by the members of our agency on process, procedure and performance.

“I’m very pleased with our results,” said High. “We’ve laid a critical foundation for continuously examining our work and for working closely with other public safety partners at the local, state and federal levels to improve public safety and other outcomes that impact the community.”

High says he counts among his agency’s key accomplishments, warrants reduction, formation of effective partnerships, greater enforcement of child support warrants, installation of a security system upgrade at the Courthouse and forming a mentoring partnership with the County School System.

After benchmarking the backlog of warrants early on, High said,” We developed a two-pronged approach that served us well throughout the year after we added staff to our warrants squad and put a great deal of emphasis on felony warrants and the most violent offenders.” In real numbers the agency handled over 40,000 warrants; High said the agency receives an average of 2,600 warrants a month for a total of 31,200 over twelve months and reduced the backlog by over 9,000 warrants.

Success in reversing the trend in warrants brings up another area of accomplishment in 2011 – effective partnerships with federal, state and municipal partners. “Good partnerships fuel all our successes and while we are the law enforcement arm of the courts, within that role is a clear public safety responsibility,” said High. “We committed to working closely with all of our law enforcement partners, County and Municipal Police, the State’s Attorney and the Courts. And, we were aided by resources from the Governor’s Office on Crime Control (GOCCP) and the County Executive.”

The Sheriff also has a key role in the support and protection of individuals, families and children through the Child Support Enforcement Division and the Domestic Violence Unit. High said he is enormously proud of the partnership that his office has with State Child Support Enforcement, which is responsible for enforcing the courts orders to establish paternity and collect child support. “I recognize that, on its face, child support enforcement may appear to not impact the community in general, but the State collects hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of custodial parents and children – costs which might otherwise fall to the county or the state.”

High said the partnership between the Office of the Sheriff and the experienced State Child Support Enforcement staff in Prince George’s County is a key component in the team’s success. “I was pleased to hear from State Director Johnson that the county is ranked first in child support collections,” said High. “Our deputies served nearly 3,000 court summonses for Child Support Enforcement last year and assisted in the facilitation of the collection of over $100 million dollars in support. That is significant support to families and children.”

With the Domestic Violence Unit, High says the agency is providing a valuable and comprehensive service because its process is pre-intervention with the service of peace and protection orders, on-site intervention in its response to 9-1-1 Domestic Violence calls for service in Police District III and post-intervention via its Domestic Violence Advocates. The victim contact through our Domestic Violence Advocates facilitates change because they reach out to victims of domestic violence to advise and assist them through court-related processes and connects them to resources such as counseling, housing and legal services.

According to Sheriff High, nearly 4,000 domestic violence victims were assisted by Domestic Violence Advocates. “Domestic Violence is a crime that every community grapples with but, with the support of expert partners, we have developed a “best practice” model that attacks this crime at every stage, including addressing the immediate and long-term needs of victims,” said High.

With the installation of the security upgrade at the courthouse, High said the new system helps to maximize safety for the courts, judges, employees and the thousands of visitors to the Courthouse each day. “We are responsible for the second busiest courthouse in the state; the new system is a great security enhancement,” said High.

Finally, Sheriff High said the Community Partnership Team has formed a mentoring partnership with the Prince George’s County School System at eight county middle schools. “Middle school is a pivotal time in the academic career of young people. Our future depends on the quality of the education we provide for them, academically and experientially,” said Sheriff High.

For more information in this case contact Cpl. William Milam from the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office Press Information Office at 301-780-2773

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