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Former NPD Chief of Police passes away in Maryland

Melvin C. High passed away Thursday shortly after checking into a hospital in Prince George's County. He died at the age of 78.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Prince George County's Sheriff Melvin C. High has died at the age of 78. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at an area hospital on Thursday.

County officials held a news conference Thursday to announce his passing.

Authorities say High was sworn in as Sheriff for Prince George's County, Maryland on Dec. 7, 2010. As Sheriff, he was responsible for leading, managing and commanding more than 300 deputies and civilians in safety and crime prevention efforts to protect and serve the residents of the county. 

Before his service as Sheriff, High served as the appointed Chief of Police for Police George's County. He was appointed to the position and served from 2003 to 2008.

Prior to joining the Prince George's County Police Department, High served as Chief of Police for the city of Norfolk, Virginia. During his 10 years there, High developed Norfolk's first community policing initiative, PACE (Police Assisted Community Enforcement), which resulted in crime reduction each year of his administration except in 1995. 

He introduced various crime prevention strategies including CRO (Community Resource Officers), SRO (School Resource Officers), Police Cadets, mobile office programs, and the expansion of tactical crime prevention efforts. 

He also revised recruitment and retention strategies that brought the Department to full staffing and increased the number of women, African Americans and civilian professional staff. 

From 1969 until 1993, High was a member of the Metropolitan Police Department. High's most notable achievement during this time was when he was put in charge of security arrangements for President Bill Clinton's first inauguration. He was also responsible for the implementation of D.C.’s first community policing initiative, CEP (Community Empowerment Policing).

Sheriff High has received many awards for his commitment to serving the community. He received a mayoral citation for commanding the successful investigation and apprehension of a serial killer known as the "shotgun bandit," who terrorized the District for three months in 1993. 

He also received a letter of appreciation from President Bill Clinton for services to the visitors and citizens of Washington, D.C. during the same year, and is the recipient of numerous other awards including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Life Institute’s “Real Dream” award in 1998 and the W Garner Community Service Award in 2001 from the Norfolk chapter of the NAACP among others.

Sheriff Melvin C. High is survived by his wife Brenda and daughter Tracy.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks released the following statement Thursday upon learning of the passing of Prince George’s County Sheriff Melvin High:

“We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Sheriff Melvin High. Sheriff High has been a dedicated public servant to the residents of Prince George’s County for nearly 20 years and will be remembered for his service to our community and commitment to the safety of Prince Georgians.

“Sheriff High led a stellar career in law enforcement, serving in various capacities in the Washington Metropolitan region including Chief of Police for Prince George’s County and Norfolk, Virginia, and Assistant Chief of Police for Washington, D.C. He served as our Sheriff for nearly 12 years and has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals and families throughout our community during his tenure. Sheriff High was especially involved in efforts to fight domestic violence in our community, launching the annual Purple Light Nights Program in October during his tenure.  

“We are asking Prince Georgians to join us in praying for Sheriff High’s family, including his wife, Brenda, and his daughter, Tracy, as they navigate this very difficult time.”


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