Things had been piling up in Mary Bell’s backyard for years. People just kept leaving things. So as of Wednesday, Prince George’s County police came to clear it away.
“The farm looks like it’s a brand new place,” Bell said as she looked out at her rejuvenated property in Oxon Hill. “I want to go back there and use my reclining wheelchair and relax.”
By noon, work was completed, one of eight housing improvement projects, Prince George’s police – assisted by a set of teen explorers – ended Saturday as part of their 34th annual “Christmas in April” initiative. Every spring, police are given a list of homes that could use some help, and officers from all eight patrol departments typically spend several days removing junk, cleaning and washing and blowing courtyards and cluttered homes out and, most importantly, leaving a trail of good will. bag.
“PD?” said Bell. “They’re fast and they’re good guys.”
At a time when police are plagued by protests and violent videos, officers often enjoy the opportunity to show that they are truly involved in their communities, that they are not only reactive when crime breaks out. That they care. “Christmas in April” is one way Prince George’s has strengthened this concept for decades.
“I feel these engagement programs work and make us better,” said Prince George’s boss Malik Aziz as he stood in the newly cleaned front yard. “It’s really about the direction of our county director [Angela Alsobrooks] to continue to build a better police and community relationship, with officers and young Explorer groups and residents engaging in these types of partnerships. “
The officers usually do a lot of interior cleaning, sometimes they help with residents who have problems with hoarding, Cpl. said Danielle Ross. In a house last year, “we had to reorganize a lot of things,” clear out animal silence and help remedy a hoarding problem, Ross said. Each of the eight projects the police do annually starts on Wednesdays, giving crews three or four days to renovate a property.
“Once we’ve done the work, we’ll follow up,” Ross said, “and check with the homeowner a year later and we’ll build the relationship.”
In Oxon Hill, Bell “had a wish list, and we did pretty much everything on it,” said Captain Dorian Johnson. Gutters were checked and cleaned. Leaves and lawn debris were blown and scooped up. Huge bags of miscellaneous, yes, things were taken to the curb and then pulled away on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Prince George’s Division 8 officers in Forestville dug a drain to divert water from Michael Caesar’s house, while members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters’ Local 197 repaired some concrete steps and then built a repos in front of the house, Caesar’s niece Barbara Eubanks said. The officers also planted shrubs, arranged all the drains and dragged away several bags of things that had been built up in Caesar’s house, said his niece, who is also his caretaker.
She said police came out a few times to inspect the property and make preparations for the work, which they completed in one day.
“Christmas in April is just wonderful,” Eubanks said. “My uncle was just excited, it all just made his day.” She said the repaired steps and landing would allow him to check his mail again, which had been difficult before. “They cleaned up the yard, they got rid of a lot of brushes, they got rid of a lot of junk from inside. Me and four others thought, ‘We’re doing this at home.’