Profiles in Unintended Consequences


The Baltimore Sun's Tim Wheeler takes a look at an ordinance in Prince George's County, Maryland, that's "barring any new home construction where police, fire and ambulance calls are not answered promptly—within six to 10 minutes for emergencies, and 25 minutes for all other calls."

[T]he pioneering law has—to almost everyone's surprise—effectively halted new development from being approved for the past five months, even inside the Capital Beltway, where there is broad support for revitalizing the county's older communities….

County Councilman Douglas J.J. Peters…said he spearheaded the emergency-response legislation because he was concerned that the county's growth was outpacing its ability to protect its residents—particularly in the rural tier, which stretches along the Patuxent River down to southern Prince George's. That's where pricey new homes have been springing up like dandelions, with fewer police and fire stations to cover them.

"You can't compromise public safety," Peters said.

But the law revealed that slow responses are not limited to the countryside. Three of six police districts covering half the county have been unable to meet the required response times.