Youth crime the topic of a talk between students and law enforcement in Prince George’s Co.

Students from a few Prince George’s County high schools spent part of Tuesday inside the county council chambers in Largo, seeing how Maryland county’s government works up close and participating in a hearing focused on youth crime.

It was a chance for Prince George’s County Chief of Police Malik Aziz, Sheriff John Carr and State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy to explain their perspective, while also hearing from students about how they perceive things.

The most interesting presentation involved an exercise, where Braveboy led the students through the consequences of even being with someone who commits a violent, armed carjacking.

“Our young people are familiar with the types of charges that they could face if they commit certain types of offenses,” Braveboy said. “But what they are not aware of are the consequences.”

She cited truancy and the violence that surrounds young people as some reasons for the rise in youth crimes in recent years.

“If you are over 16, and you are charged with a crime of violence like armed carjacking, armed robbery, assault, you will be originally charged as an adult and you will face adult sentencing,” Braveboy said.

Students who were present were able to offer some perspective and complaints, too.

One student from Oxon Hill High School said there should be more speed cameras in front of and near schools, citing the deadly crash involving a student from Wise High School. Others were critical of how officers approach them.

“I believe that when it comes to teenagers and police officers, it can be very stereotypical from what you seen in movies, from what you see of different races of police officers,” said one student.

“Teenagers don’t like being approached a certain way,” she added, saying that can hinder trust.

Other teens encouraged more engagement with schools, including participation in high school and community events. Aziz told the students that’s exactly what he wanted to hear.

“A long time ago, I was your age,” Aziz said. “I wasn’t that engaged with police myself … When I saw the police I went the other way. They was coming and I was going, they saw my back.”

That barrier Aziz put up against the cops was broken by a friend’s father. Outside the hearing, he elaborated on what has to happen to strengthen a relationship between county youth and the police.

“The better solutions usually come if they come forth with the proper solution to the problem that they presented,” Aziz said.

“What would they like to see to break down the barriers? To engaged in a meaningful conversation to destroy the barriers and build bridges of trust. They had some ideas, and we’re going to work with them.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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