Prince George’s County’s brand new state’s attorney and sheriff will have a difficult task addressing domestic violence. When Melvin C. High and Angela Alsobrooks won the sheriff and state’s attorney’s races respectively, they ran on improving the county’s response to the issue. Now they have to put their money with their mouths are.

The Prince George’s County Sheriff’s department’s response to domestic violence was once hailed as a model for response units in the state. Now, however, it has fallen to some of its lowest levels since a special focus was placed on it. High is ready to approach the position with a new level of vigor.

“One of the greatest threats to strong and healthy families is domestic violence,” High said in a statement. “Only a combined effort and strengthening our resources against domestic violence through education interaction and intervention can arm our community.”

The problem of domestic violence in the African-American community continues to be a silent monster. According to the Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County:
*35 percent of women who visit the emergency room are there because of injuries resulting from domestic violence;
*more women between the ages of 15 and 44 are injured due to domestic violence than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined and
*63 percent of men under the age of 21, incarcerated in the U.S. for homicide, are serving time for killing their mother’s abuser.

It’s an issue current Prince George’s State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey has tried to address as a prosecutor and as a community activist with Project Safe Sunday.

“It’s a huge problem. Prince George‘s County certainly has major challenges with that,” Ivey said. “It clearly was a problem when I was a prosecutor and it’s a problem across the country. It’s an issue that we need to try to get on everybody’s radar screen…”

Alsobrooks agrees wholeheartedly with Ivey. She was the county’s first full-time domestic violence prosecutor and she says she’s still committed to addressing the problem.

“I think its destroying our families,” said Alsobrooks. “It’s also causing spillover to the juvenile justice system where we’re finding young people who’ve witnessed domestic violence in their homes. We’re finding that those people are showing up in parts of gangs so it’s an interesting dynamic.”

As a result, both offices will be involved with the “Promoting Safe Communities: Ending Domestic Violence and Building Community Partnerships” forum to be held on Oct. 27 at Camelot of Upper Marlboro. It’s being held in response to a similar event held on June 24 and the goal is to create a countywide action plan towards ending domestic violence.

In addition to the state’s attorney and sheriff’s department, the Prince George’s Health Department; Police Department; Commission for Women; Department of Family Services, Prince George’s Hospital Sexual Assault Center, and Domestic Violence Coordinating Council will be represented. Registration begins at 8:15 a.m.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO