By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
In the early 2000s, Seat Pleasant was in the waning days of the crack epidemic that started in the 1980s but the city was still not a popular place to live.
A group of citizens, led by resident Pamela Boone, decided that the Seat Pleasant Police Department needed help in fighting the city’s crime rate. She, Rogers Reynolds and other residents formed the Citizens for Public Safety Advisory Council (CPAC) to support the police department and encourage citizens to get involved in fighting crime.
“We have been in existence for a number of years,” Boone, who has lived in Seat Pleasant since 1983, told the AFRO. “There were five of us and we approached [former] Seat Pleasant Police Chief Elliott Taylor about forming a group and he supported it.”
Boone, a retired human resources supervisor with the FBI, said at the time there were no community organizations, such as a civic association, where citizens could bring their issues about the police department to except the Seat Pleasant City Council and its mayor. In Prince George’s County, most municipalities and unincorporated areas have civic or citizens associations to address those concerns outside of local elected leaders.
Boone said the residents of Seat Pleasant did not have a formal way of working with the police and her neighbors and the “residents wanted that.”
“We created CPAC to bridge the gap between the community and the police,” she said.
Seat Pleasant is located in the central western part of Prince George’s County, bordering the District of Columbia’s Ward 7 sharing Eastern Avenue. The city has 4,769 residents that are 91 percent Black, 5 percent Latino and 2 percent White.
Seat Pleasant consists largely of working-class and low-income residents with a large number of senior citizens. Its crime rate is largely the same as nearby municipalities like Capitol Heights.
Seat Pleasant Police Chief Devan A. Martin recently reported crime is down in the city due to the use of technology and stronger community engagement by his police officers. He noted that violent crime is down 21.5 percent, residential burglaries are down by 33.3 percent, robberies of commercial establishments and citizens are down by 70 percent and homicides/murders are down by 75 percent.
Martin also noted vehicle impounds increased by 38.38 percent and calls for service have increased by 3.50 percent. Property crime is up 19 percent due to thefts from automobiles and stolen vehicles.
Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant believes in CPAC. “At the heart of a successful community is an engaged citizenry,” Grant said in a statement to the AFRO. “The efforts and leadership of residents like Pamela Boone has been tremendous. Through her leadership she has helped to bridge the gap between civilians and the police department.
“CPAC has been instrumental in disseminating information to the general public. They host forums, set up information booths at community functions and volunteer where needed.”
CPAC is in the process of becoming a 501(c)3 so it can raise money and set up an organizational structure to further its mission, Boone said.