- Claire Lehihan
Beltsville Blues: The Story of District VI
A great reference book was written in 1991 by Lt. Dennis Campbell entitled Journey Through Time: A Pictorial History of the Prince George's Police Department. If you like history and lots of pictures, a copy is available for reference at the Beltsville Library. (A circulation copy is no longer available at the Hyattsville Branch.)
To quote page 24 of the book: "A Maryland State Police Force was created in 1914 to enforce motor vehicle laws…under the control of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, ...patrolled the state highways on motorcycles...did not authorize its officers to make arrests." Numerous changes have occurred since then!
On April 6, 2017, the Prince George's County Police Department celebrated its 86th birthday as an independent department reporting directly to county officials. Our Beltsville station (District VI), a former public school located at 4321 Sellman Road, was established in the late 1970’s. It shares the same building as the Beltsville Branch of the public library.
There have been many upgrades and technological advances at the Beltsville station throughout the years. In October 2013 at FedEx Field, newly designed gray and dark blue cruisers were introduced. The vehicles have smaller engines and are more fuel efficient. It is projected that a 12.76 percent savings will occur on gas and oil alone this year. One part of the officers’ operating the cars was going through training and passing an obstacle test without knocking down any cones in limited time.
Other advances include car cameras, car computers, the expansion of less nonlethal force tools/equipment, updated service training, specialty unit training, and SmartWater technology. SmartWater is an international crime and prevention company. The station always has future plans to keep up with modern times and assure that it is capable of properly serving the Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, and Calverton areas. There
While the size of the parking lots and building are limited to the base size of the building structure, there are satellite offices that are used on a regular basis to be in direct contact with the communities.
The department is not only the largest in the county but one of the largest in Maryland! Many officers are volunteers, and there are many father/son/daughter and brother/sister relationships in the department. The chief’s father served in the department as well! Many departments require college credits and/or prior experience. The Prince George’s County Police Department currently does not.
The Beltsville station always participates in the National Night Out every first Tuesday of August, and the department offers many proactive programs, such as:
Tuesday Tea Time with COPS. Meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Riderwood facility in Calverton to review the latest and greatest crime trends and to conduct proactive educational crime prevention seminars.
District VI Coffee. Meets the first Thursday of every month at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center from 1–2 pm to educate our senior communities on the latest crime trends targeting our seniors and to have educational seminars and presentations from the police and fire departments.
Explorers/Jr Investigators. Meet every Wednesday at our Calverton satellite office from 5–8 pm. This is a youth group that trains our youths, ages 10–21, on the everyday working of not only being a police officer but also being an outstanding citizen.
Christmas in April. Works on a house or assists a family with necessary repairs the family is unable to complete. Applications are reviewed by a board and the Beltsville station. Necessary work is performed to make a house a home.
Holiday food baskets. Identifies and distributes food to the neediest families in November and December. The station also assists a couple of families year-round.
Neighborhood watch. Regular neighborhood watch trainings and refresher seminars conducted on a regular/as-needed basis. Operation identification and residential home security surveys go hand in hand with this.
Others. The Need to Read, Safe Shoppers Seminar, PAL, Adult ID, Child ID, Head Start, VIPS program, child safety seat check, Judicial Watch, bullying/texting presentations, crime prevention seminars, and community walks.
Many thanks to senior officials and staff of Beltsville Police Station who made this article possible! In 2031 (just 14 years), many of the current police officers will be around to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Prince George’s County Police Department!