While the perception may be that crime in Germantown has increased, the commander of the 5th District in Germantown believes that Germantown is a safe and secure community and the crime statistics back him up.
Captain Mark Plazinski, Commander of the 5th District, addressed about sixty residents at a Public Safety Forum sponsored by the Germantown Alliance on Thursday night. The meeting was held at the UpCounty Regional Services Center in Germantown and came on the heels of a violent and tragic week for Germantown. In which, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed, and the suspect took his own life as police were about to arrest him.
“You guys are here tonight because, ‘Crime is out of control in Germantown,’ right?” asked Plazinski, and many folks in the room agreed. “I disagree. I think by the end of the presentation you might have a better feel of how Germantown, I believe, is a safe and secure community.”
According to the statistics provided by Plazinski, 5th District crimes against people is up 20 percent, crimes against property are down 5.5 percent and crimes against society is up 8 percent. Crimes against society include drug offenses, gambling, and prostitution.
Plazinski said the increase in crimes against people the result of changes in the way the federal government requires crimes to be reported. He said in the past, if one person assaults four people in one incident it would be reported as one assault, but as of July of 2017, the same incident would be reported as four assaults. Now, one person assaults two people it is two assaults, which would have previously been one assault. It is the same crime, but statistically, crime has doubled.
“In the 18 months that I have been the commander of the 5th District, there have been six homicides in the district,” said Plazinski. “A homicide is a tragic event. If you have a homicide in your neighborhood, it is not something you forget. Any time there is a homicide in a neighborhood, it scars that community. Nobody likes to think about a homicide in their neighborhood. Unfortunately, we had one this week,” he said referring to the shooting death of Stephen Frazier shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
He spoke briefly about the incident, in which the suspect took his own life less than 24 hours later as detectives were about to arrest him. Plazinski said, “One of the theories of this case — and this is still very much under investigation — is that it was an accident. The scene [on Churchill Ridge Circle] didn’t make sense to investigators. It is thought that the two men were practicing with the gun, or taking the gun apart, and the victim was shot accidentally. We’ve received information from the suspect’s friends that he had told them as much; that it was an accident.” Plazinski said that investigators had found no indication that these two men had a disagreement or were fighting, or were involved in an exchange of drugs between them. “It may be accidental, and part of the suicide was the grief of shooting his friend. However, this is just one of a couple of different theories the detectives are investigating,” said Plazinski.
He also talked about the other five murders which have taken place saying that three have been related or resulting from the illegal drug trade, and the other two were domestic in nature.
“Drugs and domestic violence, that tends to be the Montgomery County homicide,” Plazinski said. “If you are involved in the drug trade, you might be a victim of a homicide. Or, if you are involved in an abusive relationship, you might be the victim of a homicide.”
He also addressed the issue of robberies in Germantown. He said that in 2017, robbery was the number one issue which his officers addressed. A robbery is using force or threat of force to take someone’s property. “There were a lot of robberies in the 5th district last year. We made a concerted effort to target the people who were involved in committing these robberies. We made a lot of good arrests, and we saw that number go down this year.” However, he warned, “we are coming into the robbery season. Historically, post-Thanksgiving through the Christmas season, we always see the robbery numbers go up. That is true in every police district in the County.”
He also spoke about a robbery that had occurred Thursday evening as he was driving to the meeting. He described the incident, saying a boyfriend and girlfriend were arguing, he pushes her and walks away with her cell phone. The responding officer found the boyfriend with the girl’s cell phone on his person. It was resolved. It meets the definition of a robbery; it will go down as a robbery in the statistics. “Do I think it was traumatic for that girlfriend, yes. Am I worried about him robbing you all? No,” Plazinski said.
He said, “I never celebrate when a crime is down. At some point, crime will go up again, and it will go back down again. Crime is part of our society when you have people living in close proximity. A property owner can live on a 40-acre farm and play loud music at all hours of the night; he can get up in the morning and drink coffee naked on his back porch; no one will call the police on him. That same person exhibiting that behavior in a townhouse community is going to be the subject of a police investigation, he said.
Many of the problems Germantown is experiencing has to do with the growth which the area has experienced. Germantown is no longer farmland and dairy cows.
He said there are 105 police officers, and an additional 40 support staff in the 5th District covering an area of 135 square miles and a population of 145,000.
Caption: 5th District Commander, Capt. Mark Plazinski addresses about sixty Germantown residents at the Public Safety Forum sponsored by the Germantown Alliance at the UpCounty Regional Services Center on Thursday, Oct. 25.
Photo by Germantown Pulse